Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Thursday April 18 2013
WATFORD will look to secure their place in the npower Championship play-offs this Saturday as they host ailing Blackburn Rovers at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets, who have 71 points and two games remaining after Saturday, can secure their top-six spot for good if they win, regardless of what either Bolton Wanderers or Nottingham Forest (63 points) do in their games against Middlesbrough and Barnsley respectively.
For visitors Blackburn, it`s an entirely different story with only two points separating themselves in 19th and the relegation zone.
In a season where the club`s hapless owners, the Venkys, have gone through six permanent and caretaker mangers many neutral fans would argue that the Lancashire outfit deserve to be in the mess they are in.
Vital Watford sympathise with the plight of Blackburn supporters having only recently been under the ownership of a unanimously disliked figure ourselves.
Looking ahead to the fixture and it`s 41 year-old Gary Bowyer in temporary charge of the side for the second time this season, trying his hardest to prevent back-to-back relegations for the Ewood Park side.
Winning 75% of his matches in charge during his initial caretaker spell between December and January, the former Hereford United, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham United full-back has won 40% this time around, including his last two.
The successes over Derby County and more importantly, fellow survival hopefuls Huddersfield Town, could prove huge in the grand scheme of things, lifting Rovers out of the drop zone at just the right time.
With Watford struggling for form of late - just two victories in eight - Rovers will come to the Vic` knowing that not only is a win imperative, but quite possible too after a second successive defeat for Gianfranco Zola`s side at Millwall on Tuesday night.
The Lancastrian`s lowly position certainly begs the question of where Rovers would be without the 24 npower Championship goals of top-scorer, Jordan Rhodes.
Rhodes has been one of few bright spots in a dismal season, virtually single-handedly keeping Blackburn`s head above water for the majority of the campaign.
Snared from Huddersfield Town during the summer for a princely £8m, the Oldham-born Scotland international has hit the ground running and immediately begun to pay off some of that hefty transfer fee.
Seventy-three goals in 110 league starts for the Terriers made Rhodes one of the most sought-after talents outside the top two divisions and with Rovers prepared to shell out £8m, the eight-cap Scotland international moved to Ewood Park.
Starting out at Ipswich, Rhodes saw very little first-team action - just 10 substitute appearances and one goal - having spent time out on-loan at Oxford United, Rochdale and Brentford.
Seven goals in 14 starts for the League One Bees was enough to persuade Lee Clark to snap up the 6`1" frontman, who quickly rewarded his boss` faith in him.
Watford are without John Eustace, Connor Smith, Neuton, Tommie Hoban, Fitz Hall and Nyron Nosworthy. Marco Cassetti is back in contention though after serving a one-match suspension.
The former of Matej Vydra has been poor recently leaving Zola with a choice as to whether or not to stick with the Czech Republic frontman. With Fernando Forestieri chomping at the bit and scoring three in his last two starts, it seems hard on the Argentine to leave him out.
Blackburn are without first-choice goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Jake Kean, meaning Genk loanee Grzegorz Sandomierski should start between the sticks.
Colin Kazim-Richards and Grant Hanley were both suspended for the Huddersfield win and will miss the trip to WD18 also as they serve the final games of their bans.
Right-back Bradley Orr and winger David Bentley will both travel having recovered from rib and knee injuries respectively.
Watford: Almunia (c); Cassetti, Ekstrand, Doyley; Anya, Yeates, Battocchio, Abdi, Pudil; Forestieri & Deeney.
Blackburn Rovers: Sandomierski; Lowe, Kane, Dann, Givet; Best, Jones, Williamson, Ms. Olsson; King & Rhodes.
Referee: Mr N Miller.
Date:Thursday April 18 2013
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