Bowyer hails defensive duo ahead of 100th games
BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has paid a glowing tribute to his defensive duo Scott Dann and Grant Hanley ahead of their 100th appearances for the club.
The centre-backs will clock up a century of games for Rovers in today’s Championship clash at Yeovil Town.
Bowyer insists no-one should underestimate how important both players have become over the course of their first 99 matches for the club.
He believes Dann has grown into the captain’s role and fully justified the £6m Rovers shelled out for his services in August 2011.
And he is in no doubt that Hanley, who at 22 is four years Dann’s junior, can go on to become a ‘great leader’ too.
Bowyer said: “In terms of their importance to the football club they have been massive.
“Scott was bought for a lot of money and I think he’s certainly justified that.
“He’s become the captain since he got here and he’s got better and better in his game.
“He’s improved every season and I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He never misses training and he’s a real top pro.
“Grant is someone I’ve known for five or six years and, like Scott, he’s just got better and better and we’re delighted he’s now a full member of the Scotland team.
“Hopefully he’s going to be a player here for a long, long time.
“I’m delighted with his progress and I’m delighted that, like Scott, he will be making his 100th appearance for Blackburn.
“They’ve formed a hell of a partnership.”
Hanley suffered the biggest disappointment of his Rovers career in the 2-1 loss at Wigan Athletic in October.
Made captain for the first time after the injured Dann missed his first league match since January 2012 – a run of 73 consecutive games – Hanley was sent off.
Knowing it cost his side victory, the big defender was quick to apologise to his manager, team-mates and supporters.
Bowyer was impressed then – and even more so now given Hanley’s form since his return to the team.
“He’s a fantastic lad and what happened at Wigan has made him a better person,” said Bowyer, who worked with Hanley when he ran the club’s reserves and Academy sides.
“His defending and his desire to defend is fantastic – he loves it.
“His aggression is something that’s needed in our team and at 22 he is leader as well – and he will go on to become a great leader.
“He’s now got the confidence to drive out of defence and start counter attacks.
“When he’s running with the ball it’s like a bull that has been let out of the stables and is heading for the China shop – you better get out the way!”
Bowyer’s only disappointment with the pair is that neither Dann nor Hanley have scored so far this season.
“They had a competition between them last season which Dannsy won 5-4,” said Bowyer.
“So we need them to start scoring again.”
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