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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Allardyce backing Kalinic to shine for Blackburn

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce is backing new striker Nikola Kalinic to score goals at the highest level and the Croatian will be given a chance to impress at Gillingham.

The Carling Cup second round tie had originally been the match the Rovers boss had targeted to give the 21-year-old his debut but he was used as a substitute in Saturday's defeat to Sunderland.

In that game he missed three good chances but despite that Allardyce is confident the former Hajduk Split striker will soon be scoring goals.

And with on-loan striker Franco Di Santo out with a hamstring problem and Benni McCarthy struggling with an ankle injury Kalinic could well play a major role against the League One side.

''They (commentators) were talking about the disappointment of (Manchester United striker) Michael Owen missing chances against Birmingham and Burnley and raving about the fantastic chance he took against Wigan,'' said Allardyce.

''We have had our striker come on a lot earlier than we wanted to (against Sunderland) but were playing that well at the time we thought he could go on and get a taste of it and hopefully get an opportunity to score - of which he did about three.

''It is a good positive thing that, in his first game before we wanted to play him, he got three opportunities to score a goal in the Premier League.

''Sadly for him and us he mis-timed his strike on all three occasions but he got in there and if he continues to get in there, from what I have seen, there is no doubt that those chances will turn into goals.

''I hope it doesn't worry him too much. He's in the squad because of Benni and Franco's injuries so we'll be looking to give him some minutes there.''

Another player hoping to make the most of his chance in the first team is former Gills goalkeeper Jason Brown, who is likely to take over from Paul Robinson for the cup tie.

''It is a great occasion for them and obviously it is a great occasion for me,'' said Brown, who was at Gillingham from 2001 to 2006 before moving to Rovers. ''I spent quite some time there and I've got some good memories so it should be good.

''If the opportunity comes against Gillingham then I'll certainly be looking to try to make the most of that. If not then I'll just wait and when the opportunity does come again this season then I'll try to do the best I can.''

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