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Paul Wheelock: Keane switch can bring Rovers right back into it
IT almost got lost in the drama of the six goals and the penalties that were and weren’t given that Rovers actually welcomed back their captain to the fray on a thrilling night at Vicarage Road.
But while it was understandable that the fit-again Grant Hanley never made it off the bench against Watford on Tuesday he has to start in Saturday’s must-win trip to basement boys Millwall.
The question is, just who should he replace?
While Rovers have conceded six times in the three games Hanley has missed with a hamstring injury it would be hard to drop either Matt Kilgallon or Michael Keane.
Yes Gary Bowyer has every reason to be unhappy with some of the goals his side let-in in the win over Huddersfield and the draws with Leicester and Watford.
But Rovers have not tasted defeat since Kilgallon and Keane formed their centre-back partnership and, collectively and individually, the duo have performed well.
That said you cannot leave a player of Hanley’s quality on the sidelines.
The solution? Play all three.
Not, however, as part of a three-man defence but with Keane switching to right-back, which has been a problem position for Rovers all season.
Ask any central defender and they will tell you they do not enjoy playing full-back.
But the team comes first and Keane has played there before and he has the capabilities to play there again.
Calm and composed on the ball with good distribution, as he proved by setting up two goals in the victory over Huddersfield, the England U21 international has impressed supporters and staff alike since his loan move from Manchester United.
That would mean Todd Kane dropping out of the side just after he was given a chance to stake his claim after Adam Henley’s season-ending injury.
Harsh, maybe, as he did not let Rovers down on Tuesday.
He could count himself unfortunate to concede the penalty which brought Watford level and, certainly at the start of the match before Bowyer tinkered with his formation, he was left exposed.
But it would be wrong to criticise Bowyer and Rovers for the positive, direct approach they have taken since that horrible home loss to Bournemouth realistically ended their chances of making the play-offs.
The top-six is not quite out of sight yet, though, and if they are going to make up the eight-point gap on Reading they need to go for broke.
That said they still have to keep the back door shut and would Rovers have a better chance of doing that with their leader and skipper back in the team? Certainly.
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