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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Blackburn could tear Bradford backline to shreads

Rovers return after three-week break

Blackburn's Bradley Dack
1 of 1

Sky Bet League One
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Thursday

Blackburn have slipped out of Sky Bet League One's automatic promotion places after nearly three weeks without a game but they can return to the top of the table by beating playoff-chasing Bradford at Ewood Park.

There is a danger of ring-rust when players are denied regular football but Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray has been pleased with the tempo of training this week and has a reasonably healthy squad to pick from.

Right-back Ryan Nyambe (hamstring) is the only first-team regular out of the frame as Blackburn begin a spell of nine games in five-and-a-half weeks which will define their season.

They approach the Bradford in high spirits having collected 17 points from their last seven games.

Newcastle loanee Adam Armstrong has given their attack an extra dimension since joining in January.

Armstrong excelled under Mowbray during a loan spell with Coventry in 2015-16 – scoring 20 goals in 40 third-tier games – and is flourishing once again with the same manager.

EFL: the run-in

Blackburn were already well stocked in attack with attacking midfielder Bradley Dack and centre-forward Danny Graham finding the net on a regular basis.

But the addition of Armstrong, making it a lethal three-pronged attack, has taken Rovers game to a new level and could be the key to ensuring a return to the Sky Bet Championship.

Bradford had been in the automatic promotion mix in the first half of the season and, as recently as New Year's Day, were only six points adrift of the top two.

However, a six-match losing sequence led to the sacking of Stuart McCall, and his replacement Simon Grayson went four games without a win before last Saturday's 1-0 triumph at home to Gillingham.

That victory dragged the Bantams to within four points of the top six and they are further boosted by the return of 12-goal top scorer Charlie Wyke, who has completed a three-game suspension.

Wyke is a useful focal point, who will cause problems if the service into the penalty area is good enough.

But he has scored just one goal in nine games this year and his return may not signal an end to Bradford's woes.

The Bantams' defensive record is the worst among the top ten teams and they have not kept a clean sheet on their travels in ten attempts since a 1-0 success at Shrewsbury last November.

There is no shortage of know-how at the back with goalkeeper Colin Doyle, right-back Anthony McMahon, centre-back Matt Kilgallon and left-back Stephen Warnock possessing Premier League experience.

But Bradford's backline has not functioned with any consistency in recent months and could be torn to shreds by one of the division's most dangerous attacks.

Blackburn -1 on Asian handicap
1pt 6-7 188bet

Match odds

Sky Bet League One standings

Team news
Harry Chapman and Ryan Nyambe (both hamstring) are ruled out.

Charlie Wyke is available after serving a three-game ban. Adam Chicksen returns from international duty with Zimbabwe but may struggle to get back into the team.

Key stat
Bradford have lost six of their last seven away fixtures.

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The Bantams' defensive record is the worst among the top ten teams and they have not kept a clean sheet on their travels in ten attempts
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