Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points ahead of this weekend’s trip to Brentford.



Rovers had 10 players unavailable for last weekend’s trip to Charlton Athletic after Derrick Williams missed out with a calf problem.

The Republic of Ireland international is unlikely to be fit enough to return this weekend, with Hayden Carter remaining training with the senior squad.

The 20-year-old was the defensive cover on the bench, with Charlie Mulgrew having played for the Under-23s in their draw with Southampton last Friday.

Academy defenders Tyler Magloire and Sam Barnes are also both currently sidelined.

There is better news on the horizon though, with Joe Rankin-Costello back training after missing the last two matches with a hamstring problem.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder started the draw at Middlesbrough, and the defeat to Fulham, but added his name to the injury list when suffering a grade one hamstring strain.

Joe Rothwell has also been absent for the last four matches with a hamstring injury, but has been back out on the Brockhall training pitches this week, and could join in with the full session when Rovers return to training on Thursday.

The same is hoped for Sam Gallagher who missed the wins over Hull and Charlton with a groin problem.

So the possibility of three faces being added to the squad in time for Brentford would be a welcome boost for manager Tony Mowbray, though as always he will err on the side of caution to avoid any further setbacks.

The return of the trio however, would afford Mowbray more selection headaches in the attacking areas of the pitch than he's had in recent weeks.



When Rovers last faced Brentford in November it was as if there was a ghost of Ewood past hanging over Christian Walton.

While David Raya was afforded an undoubtedly deserved warm welcome throughout, Christian Walton is proving his doubters wrong with an upurn in form this calendar year.

He went in to the last Bees visit on the back of errors in the 3-2 win over Barnsley and the defeat to Barnsley by the same scoreline.

But the on-loan Brighton stopper has played a key role on the road for Rovers of late, making a point-saving stop late on in the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough and two in the 2-0 win over Charlton at the weekend.

That took him to 11 clean sheets this season, a tally only beaten by Leeds United stopper Kiko Casilla, and one more than Raya managed last season.

While clean sheets aren’t solely down to the quality of goalkeeper, and Raya was left hopelessly exposed too often last season, it is a statistic that Walton will reflect well upon.

And Rovers will need him to be at his best as they come up against Brentford’s BMW front three (Benrahma, Mbuemo & Watkins) who have terrorised defences this season, with the Bees second-top scorers in the league with 54.

Raya meanwhile, has made costly errors in recent weeks, an own goal in the win at Hull earlier this month, and his mistakes in Rovers’ defeat Brentford 13 months ago were the start of a dip in confidence that would end with him sitting out the final four games of the season.



This will be Rovers' last ever trip to Griffin Park, with Brentford set to move in to a new stadium next season.

It's not been a happy hunting ground for Rovers of late, conceding four second half goals as they slipped to a 5-2 defeat, having led 2-0 in the early stages as they chased a fifth consecutive win. Their season then unravelled, that the start of a run of one win in 11 matches.

In May 2017, despite a 3-1 win, Rovers were relegated to League One at Griffin Pak for the first time in 37 years.

However, there were the memorable scenes of March 2016 when Shane Duffy hurled himself in to the away end after netting what would prove to be a goal of the season winner as 10-man Rovers snatched victory at the death.

This weekend's trip will be an acid test of Rovers' play-off credentials, with the Bees sitting fourth in the league and with a reputation as one of the division's most free-flowing teams.

Returning to East Lancashire with a positive result come 5pm on Saturday would be a real shot in the arm for Rovers heading in to next week's Ewood Park double-header with Stoke City and Swansea City.