MATCH PREVIEW: Steve Kean impressed with Ipswich Town but calls on Blackburn boys to hit ground running
Ipswich v Blackburn: Town’s comfortable progression in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night clearly impressed the watching Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean.
But as the two clubs prepare to lock horns in tomorrow’s season-opener, Kean has called on his players to give Rovers’ fans something to smile about as the unrest off-the-pitch continues.
The Blackburn boss said: “We’ll go there very positive. I went to see them (Ipswich) the other night against Bristol Rovers and they performed very well themselves and I think they’ve got a good squad.
“Obviously it will be a tough game but we should be going there full of confidence. It is important with the squad that we have that we hit the ground running.”
After relegation from the Premier League last season, Rovers are one of the promotion favourites in the second tier having only only lost Yakubu and Junior Hoilett.
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But with that comes huge expectations, something Kean and experienced midfielder David Dunn are only too aware of.
Kean said: “We’ve done well all summer to assemble one of the best squads in the league. Now we’ve one goal and that goal is to get promoted.
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“It is our focus, it is our drive, it is our determination, to get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and it starts tomorrow.”
Dunn added: “Everyone wants to have a real push for promotion, not just to go up, but hopefully to go on and win it.
“The owners have spent a little bit more money than they have (previously) and I hope we can bring a few more in. I think if we don’t go up, it will be a failed season.”
Kean’s pre-season plans were hit by a cruciate knee ligament injury to �2.5 million signing Leon Best.
While now looking for another frontman, Rovers should be led by new boys Nuno Gomes and Colin Kazim-Richards – a duo who have 114 international caps between them.
Veteran midfielder Danny Murphy should shake off a foot injury to line up alongside fellow new signing Dickson Etuhu but Mark Bunn (hip), the reserve keeper who Norwich City put in a �500,000 bid for this week, Martin Olsson (groin) and Ruben Rochina (hamstring) are all out.
Powerful midfielder Steven Nzonzi remains part of Rovers’ large squad but sources close to the club say he has been “frozen out” and will go out on loan.
Scott Dann will start at centre-back despite being widely linked with an instant return to the Premier League and Morten Gamst Pedersen, who was openly criticised by the Blackburn owners last week, could be on the bench.
* Follow @davegoods and @Stuart_Watson on Twitter for all the team news, reports and reaction from Portman Road tomorrow