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Blackburn Rovers boss believes in young guns
YOU have to go back nearly six years to January 2008 for the last time Blackburn Rovers made it three straight league victories in a single season.
But that statistic could be banished today when Rovers – who did win two games at the end of the 2009-10 campaign before winning their 2010-11 opener at home to Everton – welcome struggling Sheffield Wednesday to Ewood Park.
Gary Bowyer’s young side go into the game buoyed by back-to-back successes over Millwall and Yeovil Town which have left them just four points shy of the play-off places.
But should they close that gap further this afternoon by making it nine points from nine Rovers boss Bowyer will not be going overboard.
“If you look back at the start of the season we were talking about patience and understanding,” said boss Bowyer, whose starting line-up for Saturday’s 1-0 victory away at Yeovil Town had an average age of only 24.
“Now the young group are maturing, getting more games under their belts and realising what the Championship is all about.
“But we certainly won’t be letting them get carried away with what they’ve done – as they’ve not done anything yet.
“We don’t get carried away when we get beat and now we won’t get carried away just because we’ve won a couple of games.
“It’s a long, long season, there’s loads more twists to come, so that’s why we are going game by game.
“The next one is Sheffield Wednesday and we’ll be looking to pick something up.”
Bowyer has been pleased by the way his players have responded to his criticism following the 3-1 defeat at Ipswich Town at the start of the month.
But he has warned them not to underestimate the third-from-bottom Owls.
Bowyer was at Hillsborough eight days ago to take in their clash against Wigan, which was abandoned after 59 minutes because of a waterlogged pitch.
But he had seen enough in that time to make him wary of the problems Wednesday, under the stewardship of caretaker manager Stuart Gray, could pose in this afternoon’s clash.
Bowyer said: “It’s going to be a tough game.
“We went and watched them the other night against Wigan and they were a big, strong side.
“They’re not going to come to Ewood to give us an easy ride.
“I know Stuart Gray and he will be working very hard to put a performance on.
“They had a good win against Leicester when he first took over and that shows you what they are capable of.”
It will be a family affair for two Rovers players this afternoon.
Striker Jordan Rhodes’ father Andy is the Owls’ goalkeeping coach while left-back Tommy Spurr watched Wednesday as a lad along with his father.
Spurr started his career with the Owls and went on to make 211 appearances before signing for Doncaster in June 2011.
It will be the first time that Spurr, who joined Rovers from Doncaster in the summer, will have faced Wednesday.
The 26-year-old, like top-scorer Rhodes, is certain to start.
But it remains to be seen whether Ruben Rochina will be handed his first start since the opening day draw at Derby County.
Rochina, who dislocated his shoulder in that match, made a lively cameo from the bench against Yeovil on Saturday.
The Spanish star came close to finding the net with one audacious attempt on goal but Bowyer has urged the Spaniard to continue to work on the areas of his game he needs to strengthen.
“I understand people getting carried away with his magnificent effort from behind the back of his leg,” said Bowyer, who expects to have Corry Evans back in the first team picture in the next couple of weeks after the injured midfielder resumed training with the ball.
The Rovers boss added of Rochina: “But at the same time Ruben has to retain the ball a little bit better while his defensive work can improve.
“But there’s loads more to come from Ruben – he’s a special talent that’s for sure.”
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