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Rovers boss challenges wide men to fill Ben’s boots
ONE man’s loss is another man’s opportunity goes the old adage – and, ahead of tonight’s trip to Barnsley, it is one Blackburn Rovers boss Gary Bowyer desperately hopes rings true.
Bowyer’s sadness at losing Ben Marshall to suspected ligament damage was still evident when he yesterday.
According to his manager, Marshall was playing the ‘best football of his life’ before he was stretchered off against Derby County on Saturday.
The winger will undergo a second scan later this week to determine the extent of the damage to his ankle. It is feared, however, he may not play again this season.
That would be a cruel blow to Rovers.
But while struggling to hide his disappointment, Bowyer does at least believe Marshall’s absence will provide a chance for someone in his thinned-down squad to stake their claim.
“We never want to lose any of our players and it’s a bitter blow for Ben,” said the Rovers chief.
“The lad is gutted because he was playing the best football of his life.
“But what it does do is provide an opportunity for someone to come in and replace him.
“But whoever it is has got to come in and carry the mantle from where Marshy left off as he’s been outstanding.
“It’s a challenge for someone to come in and fill his boots.”
That someone could be Josh King. The Norwegian international is fit for tonight’s match after shaking off the knock which forced him to sit out the 1-1 home draw with Derby.
Two of King’s best performances for Rovers have come against Barnsley.
He broke the deadlock in the 3-1 win at Oakwell last season – which marked Bowyer’s first game in caretaker charge of the club – and was on the score sheet again in the 5-2 victory at Ewood Park in August.
Rovers, in fact, have won four and drawn three of their last seven meetings with Barnsley.
And given Danny’s Wilson’s side are rooted to the foot of the Championship, everything suggests an away win tonight.
But Bowyer is not getting ahead of himself – especially after the Tykes ended their seven-game winless run with a 2-0 home triumph over Blackpool last time out.
“There are no easy games in this league,” said Bowyer.
“We’ve stressed that to the players that the game with Barnsley will be no different.
“They’re fighting for their lives and they have a determination to stay in the league.
“We know how powerful that can be so it’s up to us to match everything that Barnsley throw at us and then try and stamp our quality on it.
“They scored two goals and kept a clean sheet in their last match so they’ll go into the game full of confidence.
“But we go into the game with the confidence of taking a point off a very good team in Derby.
“We showed some great characteristics in our defending and our front two were a real handful.
“Jordan (Rhodes) and Rudy (Gestede) are forming a good partnership and we’re hoping that can build on that even further because the big man (Gestede) is chipping in with goals as well now.
“His aerial dominance on Saturday was fantastic.”
Captain Scott Dann will miss tonight’s match because of the Achilles injury that also ruled him out against Derby.
Corry Evans returned to full training for the first time yesterday after three months out with ankle-ligament damage.
Bowyer hopes the midfielder will be in contention for a starting place come the trip to Reading on February 22.
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