IAN Pearce could well be back to give Blackburn Rovers manager Ray Harford a major boost for tomorrow's Premiership clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

And Kevin Gallacher looks a candidate to start too, providing he doesn't suffer any problems from training after his hamstring injury.

All the speculation has surrounded Graeme Le Saux's chances of making a rapid return to the team at Hillsborough, but that won't happen.

Both Pearce and Gallacher came through a midweek practice match - with Le Saux - and trained yesterday and today. They will be checked tomorrow for any reaction before Harford finalises his line-up.

Pearce hasn't started a first team game for almost a year, suffering a long-term foot injury before going down recently with thigh problems. He has, however, made several appearances as a substitute this season and will be eager to press his claims for a place tomorrow, as will Gallacher.

But Le Saux, who has made exceptional progress, confirmed today that he won't be ready. "I am getting close," he said. "Hopefully, it will be in a couple of weeks time.

"When results aren't going well, people start to look at the injured players, but I have to remain sensible."

Rovers certainly won't rush him, even though he doesn't look too far away.

Harford said: "He's close and, of course, there's a temptation to bring him back. I wanted him back at the start of the season.

"But he's a sensible, intelligent boy and I think we are decent club in that we have to consider the player's future.

"We did that when Alan Shearer had a long-term injury and both we and he reaped the rewards."

It has been a tense week, after last Saturday's latest defeat by Arsenal heightened the pressures on Harford. The players and board have given the manager their backing but there is a desperate need to get that first League victory of the season, otherwise dissent among the fans will no doubt erupt again. "It's been a difficult time for myself and everybody connected with the club, but the plans and preparations are continuing as normal," said Harford.

"The only significant thing about the Sheffield Wednesday game is that it's our next one. It is important only in that context."

There could well be changes tomorrow.

Harford gave a strong hint that Gallacher would feature, pointing out that he believed Gallacher and Chris Sutton complement each other as a pairing.

Rovers are set to choose from: Flowers, Kenna, Berg, Marker, Croft, Donis, Sherwood, Bohinen, Wilcox, Beattie, Sutton, Ripley, Flitcroft, Gudmundsson, Broomes, McKinlay, Pearce, Gallacher, Given.

Des Walker will return for Wednesday, after serving a ban, and they are also set to give Benito Carbone his debut after a club record £3 million move from Inter Milan.

Wednesday's squad is expected to be: Pressman, Atherton, Nolan, Pembridge, Newsome, Whittingham, Hirst, Booth, Blinker, Hyde, Stefanovic, Walker, Carbone, Nicol, Trustfull, Oakes, Clarke, Humphreys.

Rovers A team are at home to Bolton tomorrow.

Mike Newell, looking for a move from Birmingham, is doing some training at Brockhall.

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