Illness may force Rovers striker out of Africa

Rudy Gestede

Rudy Gestede

First published in Football
Last updated
Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

BLACKBURN Rovers will assess Rudy Gestede before deciding whether the striker is well enough to make a 10,000-mile round trip to Malawi just days before the start of the new season.

Gestede is due to depart on Wednesday to link up with the Benin squad ahead of a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, but the 25-year-old has been laid low by illness and was forced to pull out of Rovers’ 0-0 draw at Bradford City shortly before kick-off on Saturday.

The forward has made only one appearance for Rovers during pre-season – featuring against non-league Telford a fortnight ago, before jetting off to help Benin beat Malawi 1-0 in the first leg of their Africa Cup of Nations second round match.

The second leg takes place on Saturday in the Malawian city of Blantyre, deep in south east Africa, with the winners going into the final group stage of qualification.

Boss Gary Bowyer had previously admitted that the timing of the international is far from ideal, coming just six days before Rovers open their Championship season at home to Gestede’s old club Cardiff City.

Gestede is a key player for Rovers after netting nine goals in the last nine games of last season and Bowyer says the target man will be closely assessed in the coming days.

“He’s got the rest of the week really, I think he might be due out to go on Wednesday but if he’s not well he can’t travel,” Bowyer said.

“Obviously he’s got to get better first, he can’t be travelling in an ill state. He’s got to get well and then we’ll assess it from there.

“We had a little bit of sickness and diarrhoea go through the camp on Friday night.

“Rudy was one of those who travelled with us on Saturday and he thought he might be able to give it a go, but with the temperature on the day it was a sensible decision not to.

“He is an important player, he’s as important as everyone else in the squad but you saw the way that he finished the season and the impact he had on it.

“We have to make sure we look after him and get him back.”

Chris Brown also missed the Bradford match with the knee injury that has so far prevented him from making his Rovers debut after signing from Doncaster Rovers last month.

Bowyer, though, is certain the striker will be available to face Cardiff and hopes he will get his first pre-season run-out at Bury on Wednesday night.

“Chris trained on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week but he just felt a little bit of a reaction on Friday,” the boss said.

“It’s just nursing him, we’ll see how he goes in the week.

“We’re hoping to get some minutes into him on Wednesday.”

Former Portsmouth keeper Jamie Ashdown featured for the final 18 minutes of Saturday’s game at Valley Parade after arriving on trial following his release by Leeds United at the end of last season.

Rovers already have stoppers Paul Robinson, Simon Eastwood and Jake Kean on their books, but Ashdown previously worked with Ewood goalkeeping coach John Keeley at Portsmouth.

The 33-year-old may figure again at Bury, with Bowyer is pondering whether to offer a deal.

“We need competition in all areas and the situation with Jamie presented him with a chance to come in and show what he can do,” Bowyer said.

“We’ll have a look at him throughout the week. If you look at every position we’ve got, we’ve got competition in all areas and when someone becomes available to increase the competition then we’re certainly going to have a look.”

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