Blackburn Rovers midfielder so keen to feature
LEE Williamson could put his injury nightmare behind him by being thrown straight into the starting line-up for today’s East Lancashire derby at Burnley (12.15pm).
Blackburn Rovers boss Gary Bowyer could be tempted to start with the 31-year-old midfielder after being robbed of his most experienced player in David Dunn – who misses out after picking up a knee inury.
If Williamson does get the nod it will be reward for the recovery he has made from the back problem that ruled him out of the whole of pre-season.
After arriving on a free transfer in February, the former Watford, Sheffield United and Portsmouth man played a key role as Rovers survived a second successive relegation.
But after being handed a one-year contract extension by Bowyer in June, Williamson’s hopes of kicking on were dashed.
“I picked up the injury in the off-season, which wasn’t ideal,” he said.
“A nerve in my back flared up so I had to have an injection to settle it down.
“But it’s behind me now so I can just concentrate on training and looking forward to the games.
“I’ve caught up and I’ve done my own sort of separate pre-season with the sports scientist/fitness coach.
“When you’re out there you just want to get as fit as you can, you don’t stop running because you want to get back in the team.
“But it’s not going to be easy to get back in the team because of the last couple of results.”
Bowyer has plenty of options to take the place of Dunn.
Corry Evans helped change the game when he came on for the 33-year-old in the 4-1 win over Bolton two weeks ago while Alan Judge – fresh from becoming a father for the first time – could be asked to operate in the role behind lone striker Jordan Rhodes.
But given the oldest player in his side is set to be captain Scott Dann, 26, Bowyer could yet find a place for Williamson.
The Rovers chief said: “With the loss of Dunny, Williamson’s experience will prove valuable to us because it is a young squad.
“Losing Dunny and his experience is a blow but we’re blessed by the fact that Williamson has returned.”
And the midfielder himself has been impressed with what he has seen from the new-look Rovers squad so far this season having been forced to maintain a watching brief.
He said: “At times last year there were a lot of players coming and going and people on loan and what not, so I think it’s good we’ve got a settled squad.
“The gaffer can make changes and the team is still going to be as strong.”
Williamson added: “The gaffer has made that happen.
“He got the job permanently and now he’s come in and made things settled.
“He’s got his squad, got his team, knows what he wants, and now we can all bond and work together.”
Dunn is already walking without crutches after having undergone minor knee surgery on Tuesday.
And the man who strikes fear into the hearts of Burnley fans like no other Rovers player will be in the visiting dressing room before today’s clash firing up his team-mates according to captain Scott Dann.
The Rovers skipper is keen to stress the importance of having Dunn in and around the squad in the build-up to the game, insisting the former Birmingham man will still have a pivitol role to play despite not being available for selection.
“The first thing Dunny said to me when I saw him was, ‘I’ll be there lad, don’t worry about that,’” said Dann.
“I’m sure he’ll be very vocal in the dressing room and it’ll be good to have him around even though he can’t play.”
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