BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer is relishing the prospect of welcoming his predecessor Mark Hughes back to Ewood Park for the climax of his side’s pre-season schedule.
Rovers will complete their preparations for the 2014-15 Championship campaign with a clash against Hughes’ Stoke City on Sunday, August 3.
And Bowyer, who was the Welshman’s U18s coach during his four-year reign in the Ewood hotseat, said: “I’m absolutely delighted we can round off with a fantastic game against Mark Hughes and Stoke City.
“He’s done a fantastic job there this season but that doesn’t surprise me one bit given the quality he showed when he was manager of Blackburn.
“We know they’ll bring so many thousand fans as well so it should make for a good atmosphere at Ewood.”
The visit of Stoke, who finished a club record ninth in the Premier League in Hughes’ first season in charge, will be Rovers’ sole home friendly.
Their other four friendlies will see them hit the road to take on AFC Telford United, neighbours Accrington Stanley, Bradford City and Bury.
The trip to Conference Premier new boys Telford on Saturday, July 12 (3pm) will kick off Rovers’ pre-season programme.
Bowyer, for the second year running, will then whisk his players away to Portugal for a week-long warm weather training camp.
And Bowyer hopes to have the handful of signings he wants to make in place before the Rovers party arrives in the Algarve on July 14.
He said: “The facility we used last year was excellent and the camp went very well.
“It gave us a chance to get some of the squad together but, of course, a lot of work happened after that.
“This year we’re obviously going to try and get the bodies we want in before then.
“But we’re not looking at that many.
“The camp itself, and the location, are excellent for what we will want to try and achieve next season.”
On their return to home shores Rovers, who will not play a match while out in Portugal, will make the short trip to the Store First Stadium on Wednesday, July 23 (7.45pm) to face Stanley, who are managed by their former striker James Beattie.
The friendly is part of the compensation package between the clubs following Connor Mahoney’s move to Rovers in December.
Rovers will then travel to League One’s Bradford City on Saturday, July 26 (3pm) and Stanley’s League Two rivals Bury on Wednesday, July 30 (7.45pm) before returning to Ewood to take on Stoke, less than a week before the Championship campaign gets under way on Saturday, August 9.
Fixtures for the 2014-15 Championship season will be released on Wednesday, June 18.