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Blackburn Rovers step up search for centre-back
BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer will intensify his search for a centre-back after being left to sweat on the fitness of Grant Hanley and Matt Kilgallon ahead of Sunday’s East Lancashire derby with Burnley.
Captain Hanley missed the woeful 4-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday with a calf strain while Kilgallon came off after hurting his groin.
It meant Bowyer’s side finished the match without a single recognised central defender on the pitch.
Hanley is hopeful he will be back to take on Burnley while Kilgallon will undergo medical assessments to see if he has a chance of playing in Rovers’ biggest game of the season.
But Bowyer, who has been attempting to sign another centre-back on loan ever since Scott Dann’s departure on transfer deadline day, insists he will do everything he can to reinforce his backline before the Ewood Park encounter.
He said: “We will try and bring in a bit of cover.
“It’s been well documented that we’re trying to do that but obviously with Matt limping off there is even more urgency now.
“Matt has a slight groin and we’ll assess that and we’re certainly hoping Grant will be fit that’s for sure. He was close on Saturday.”
The Lancashire Telegraph understands Rovers were close to signing young Manchester United defender Michael Keane on loan last week.
But it is believed that United are only willing to send Keane out on loan again – the 21-year-old played eight times for Derby County earlier this season – if he is going to get games.
Before Kilgallon became the latest visitor to Rovers’ already overcrowded treatment room Bowyer was unable to guarantee that.
As it is hoped that Hanley’s absence will be short term.
Hanley, who has yet to taste defeat since taking over as Rovers captain from Dann, is desperate to lead Rovers out against Burnley on Sunday.
Bowyer is also optimistic that midfielders David Dunn, who sat out the game against Bolton with a minor knock, and Tom Cairney will be back for the Clarets clash.
While winger Josh King is expected to return to training this week after a month on the sidelines.
Top scorer Jordan Rhodes captained Rovers on Saturday in place of the injured Hanley, who has pulled out of the Scotland squad for their friendly in Poland on Wednesday.
The 16-goal striker missed two good chances to end a scoring drought that now stretches back nine matches.
“There’s a glut of goals coming from him,” said Bowyer, who was forced to include midfielder Darragh Lenihan, 20, and striker Dean Rittenberg, 17, on the bench against Bolton.
“I’m not concerned because he’s having the chances.
“He knows that these things happen, he won’t make a deal of it and he will try to score next week.”
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