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Blackburn Rovers duo set for Olympic duty during pre-season

First published in Sport This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Blackburn Rovers reporter

BLACKBURN Rovers are bracing themselves for the prospect of losing Grant Hanley and Jason Lowe for almost all of pre-season – with both in line to be involved in Britain’s Olympic campaign.

Rovers’ academy products are expected to continue in Steve Kean’s first team for tomorrow’s crucial trip to West Brom, with their manager admitting their emergence hasn’t gone unnoticed by Team GB’s selectors.

Kean confirmed both of the 20-year-olds were in line for selection for the tournament that starts on July 26 and insisted he would not stand in their way.

London 2012 and the build-up would clash almost entirely with Rovers’ summer preparations for the new campaign but Kean is adamant, if selected, both should accept.

He said: “We have had with the Olympic organisation. The way I believe the Olympic squad is named is after the countries name their European Champion-ships squad.

“We expect some of our boys to be in the Olympic squad. Jason Lowe and Grant Hanley, there is a big chance they could be involved.

“If they want to play and are selected then I am sure they will play. It is a thing that you look at and say is it an honour to play in the Olympics? I think it is.

“It is not ideal timing but when they do come back, they will come back very fit because they will have been training for the majority of the time.

“If they get selected I think they should play and consider it an honour.”

Hanley is expected to continue his partnership with Scott Dann in the heart of the defence at the Hawthorns tomorrow, with Lowe continuing in central midfield.

Both have earned international recognition, Lowe with England under 21s and Hanley with the Scotland senior squad, with Kean revealing the latter has even earned praise from Alex Ferguson.

Kean said: “Sir Alex said after Monday’s game Grant’s anticipation had really improved and we feel, not only that aspect, his feet have got better, he is very quick, and he has bonded with Scott Dann.

“Sir Alex was very complimentary and thought he was good enough to play for the Scotland team for the next 10 to 15 years and I agree.”

Rovers travel to West Brom tomorrow in the Premier League relegation zone but with just one point separating the four teams above basement side Wolves.

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