BLACKBURN boss Gary Bowyer has pin-pointed Jay Spearing as the man who could do his side the most damage in tomorrow’s Reebok showdown.
Spearing – who turned down a move to Ewood Park in the summer to join Wanderers – is well known to Bowyer from his time working in the Ewood Park youth ranks.
And while the focus may have fallen on the front men involved – and whether Dougie Freedman will persist with a front two or revert back to his tried-and-trusted sole striker – Bowyer believes the chief threat to his Blackburn side comes from deeper in midfield.
“Jay Spearing is a good player who we have known throughout our time in youth football and reserve team football,” he said. “Give him time on the ball and he can hurt you because he’s a good passer of the ball.
“Whoever they play in there (midfield) with him will be good players as they’ve got a good squad.
“It’ll be up to Lee Williamson and Jason Lowe (defensive midfielders) to go and nullify them.”
Not for the first time this season, an opposition manager has pointed out Wanderers’ squad should be plying their trade higher up the table.
But Bowyer is reading nothing into the fact the Whites have struggled this campaign, and believes local rivalries will more than compensate for the 10-place and 13-point gap between the two clubs.
“I don’t think form comes into these types of games, local derbies,” he said. “It’s a different type of game. “Local games are about the supporters, for us we don’t get any extra points from them, so we just try to concentrate on preparing as normal as possible. But we are fully aware it is not a normal game.
“If you look at Bolton’s squad and the quality that is within it and the ability the club has a whole to bring in new recruits you could say that (they are in a false position).”
While Dougie Freedman’s position has come under scrutiny in some quarters on the Reebok terraces, Bowyer reckons the fact he has been able to recruit a brand new strike force in 2014 bodes well for his longer-term future at Wanderers.
“Mason and Jutkiewicz are good players from good clubs so the manager is being backed, that’s for sure,” said the Rovers boss.
“It’s going to be an interesting game because they’ve got the big man in Jutkiewicz and you look at how well Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede are doing. It’s going to be an interesting game and we’re certainly going to have to be right on our mettle.”