BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer believes the club is not missing former captain Scott Dann – instead insisting that the current pairing of Grant Hanley and Matt Kilgallon can form an even more effective partnership.
Dann and Hanley were an integral pairing for Rovers before the former moved to Premier League side Crystal Palace on transfer deadline day.
But Bowyer believes Hanley, who has been called into the Scotland squad for their friendly with Poland on March 5, has benefited from the experience of Kilgallon alongside him.
He said: “When Scott went and, given how he played and how forged a great partnership with Grant, there’s an initial question of how well the two lads would gel.
“But you look at them on their last two performances and you’d think they had been playing for a good season and a half.
“We’re delighted with Killa. I can’t speak highly enough of him, of how he’s been since he joined the football club.
“He uses his experience and passes it on to the younger ones and he’s never been an ounce of trouble.
“He’s a fantastic addition for us and now he’s in and he’s playing really well.”
And Bowyer believes that the left-sided Kilgallon, the former Sheffield United man can also play at left back, has improved Rovers’ defensive shape.
“Matt is naturally left-sided so it’s enabled Grant to put on his natural side, which is the right-hand side, and it’s helped everybody,” added Bowyer.
“It’s something we’re looking for them to build on. When you’re on a natural side you’re far more confident when on the ball and with how we want to play and how we want to go about it, it’s important that they are comfortable in having possession. It’s something that enables us to work further on from now until the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Rovers trio Jordan Rhodes, Craig Conway and Tom Cairney all missed out on call-ups to the Scotland squad for the Poland friendly.
Rhodes’ omission was the most surprising given the goalscoring form the striker has shown so far this season but Scotland boss Gordan Strachan has opted to select just three forwards in his squad.
And the Scotland chief admitted he had faced a tough task in selecting his players for the Hampden Park clash.
“This is the first time really I have had to leave out players who are doing well at their club,” he said.
“I have had to phone four, five or six and say: ‘Look, you are unfortunate at this time. I think this is the squad for us. That’s not to say that the next squad you'll not be in.’ “Normally it’s quite easy but it’s been a hard pick this time.
“There are players unfortunate not to be in the squad but we see no reason to bring them along when they are not going to play, when these guys here have definitely got a chance of playing.
“The guys who are not here, I have spoken to them in the last couple of months, and they know it’s been appreciated what they have done.”