Preston North End’s derby opponents Blackburn aim to get over Bradley Dack KO
Blackburn Rovers will go into Saturday’s Lancashire derby with an identical form record to North End over the last five league games.
Both sides are winless in four, losing their last two and drawing the two prior.
Blackburn have lost back-to-back away league games against Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest, following draws with Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic.
As did PNE, Rovers lost in the third round of the FA Cup, 10-man Birmingham getting the better of them 2-1 at St Andrews with a 90th-minute winner.
The mood around Ewood Park is not too great at the moment.
Rovers were dealt a sucker punch over Christmas, as Bradley Dack was sidelined for the best part of a year with an ACL injury picked up in the Wigan draw, so one half of Saturday’s usual threat will be missing.
Dack is still Rovers’ top scorer this season, with nine, and the next best placed is Adam Armstrong on six.
The onus will be on Armstrong – a former transfer target of PNE who chose Blackburn after North End had agreed a then club-record fee – to deliver.
Only Dack has had more shots per game this season than Armstrong and another source of regular goals will need to be found to ease the burden on the winger.
Rovers fans will want that man to be Sam Gallagher.
Only Daragh Lenihan at the heart of the defence wins more aerial duels per game than Gallagher and he represents a formidable force should he find form.
Both Gallagher and Armstrong have good potential but have failed to realise that so far.
If the two could begin to combine it could prove potent for Blackburn, with the latter having scored one and almost had another – but for it going down as an own goal – at Deepdale.
Armstrong possesses a lot of pace and is quite direct with how he plays, as Gallagher also likes a more direct approach.
Rovers fans have been disappointed with the return they have had from their £5m summer signing from Southampton, having only seen him score twice.
They will be hoping for a repeat performance of the first half at Deepdale, where Gallagher had the running of the game and managed to find the net inside the opening minutes.
With neither side in good form going into the game, it could turn into a decemnt contest with both sides looking to put an to their current runs of form.
But the most recent encounter at Ewood was hardly a classic, especially from a PNE perspective, despite the result.
Different players have been called into action at full-back in recent weeks too, with Stewart Downing, Elliot Bennett, Amari’i Bell and Ryan Nyambe all answering the call.
It could be interesting to see how Blackburn deal with North End’s threats from out wide, Tom Barkhuizen a usual thorn in Rovers’ side.