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Paul Wheelock column: Cairney can be Rovers’ midfield talisman
Updated 1:07pm Thursday 13th March 2014 in Football
TWITTER was a miserable place to be on Sunday night. But those who braved seeing Clarets fans celebrating a first derby win since 1979 may have come across a tweet from a player Rovers could have desperately done with at Ewood Park.
Matt Jansen tweeted: “Shane Dunny ran out of steam, it definitely helped Burnley when he went off.”
The former Rovers hero was spot-on as within eight minutes of David Dunn’s departure the course of the match – and history – had changed.
In the days after the defeat it is Gary Bowyer’s decision to replace Dunn in the 71st minute – and not Jordan Rhodes hitting the post when he really should have scored 16 minutes earlier – that many Rovers fans feel was the game’s real turning point.
They argue that Bowyer should have kept Dunn on the pitch given the fear he induces in Burnley’s players and supporters.
They have a point as it was clear that once their bogey-man was banished to the sidelines – with a well-deserved standing ovation – the Clarets were visibly lifted.
But you cannot blame Bowyer for wanting to protect a player who, when he starts, Rovers tend not to lose.
Statistics back this up.
Of the 19 league matches Dunn has started since the beginning of last season Rovers have won nine, drawn six and lost just four.
Those figures also prove that Rovers have to find a player capable of filling his boots.
As 12 of the 17 goals Rhodes had scored this season going into last night’s Bournemouth clash came when he started as a lone frontman.
So who in Bowyer’s squad can the place of the irrepressible Dunn?
Come in Tom Cairney, whose own importance to Rovers is underlined by the fact they have lost the three league games he has missed this season.
While he needs to develop Dunn’s eye for goal Cairney already has the vision and awareness to make him an effective No.10.
But firstly the former Hull man needs to get back fit and then it needs Bowyer to shift him from the right-sided position he has occupied for the majority of this season.
And with Corry Evans back at long last and a plethora of wide players now to choose from, the Rovers boss will soon have the luxury of doing just that.
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