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Soccernet Preview: Blackburn v Bolton

• Live on ESPN UK on Sunday at 12.00 GMT

Some terrible away form in recent games suggests that relegation-threatened Bolton will travel to Ewood Park with the view that taking a point would be a good result. Owen Coyle's men have turned in some decent performances of late, especially against Manchester City, but their away-day blues are hindering their hopes of staying in the league.

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'Big Sam' Allardyce, of course, will take many of the headlines for Blackburn as he faces the club responsible for his biggest successes - when he led the Trotters into the UEFA Cup knockout rounds and up to sixth in the Premier League during an eight-year stint. However, a run of three successive wins at home suggests he will be in no mood to be sentimental.

The home side have not come out on top much in this fixture, winning just two of them last 17 clashes, but Bolton will be under more pressure to pick up the points as they currently sit eight points behind their Lancashire rivals.

Blackburn player in focus: Ryan Nelsen. Without his giant partner, Christopher Samba, Nelsen will be tasked with dealing with Kevin Davies' aerial threat; a physical battle that he will enjoy. A no-nonsense style of defender, the New Zealander is perfectly built for playing a side like Bolton and will be unafraid of attacking any long balls that may come his way.

Bolton player in focus: Jussi Jaaskelainen. If there has been a more consistent goalkeeper in the league over the past decade, then we'd like to see him. The Finn has been one of the shining lights in many a Bolton season and this one is no different as he finds himself tested more often than usual, due to some poor defending ahead of him. Capable of saving games on his own, Bolton will need Jaaskelainen to be at his best if they are to take anything from the game.

Key battle: Yildiray Basturk v Fabrice Muamba. The Turk should be given his first start for his new club and will drift around the centre of the park attempting to fill the boots of the injured David Dunn. Basturk has a great deal of experience to call upon, so his movement will have to be tracked by the combative Muamba, who will be tasked with shielding the back four from his penetrating attacks. In a physical battle, there is no contest, but his guile and positioning could tip the scales in the favour of Basturk.

Tactics: An interesting mix as Sam Allardyce's long ball tactics find themselves still being used in Bolton, while he likes to employ them for his Rovers side as well. Occasionally, both sides will attempt to play the ball on the ground and Kevin Davies recently claimed that Tottenham play more long balls than Bolton - not true - but if you're expecting free-flowing attacking football, then you may be disappointed. The physical clashes around the pitch will still make for an intriguing contest though.

Quotes: Vince Grella is pleased about the arrival of Yildiray Basturk: "He's doing well. Basturk is a senior pro, who's got international experience and has played in the Bundesliga for 10 years. Can he be a star player for us? You took the words out of my mouth. I think he's got everything to be a star player at Blackburn."

Martin Olsson thinks that Blackburn will reap the benefits of a training camp in Dubai: "It will be much better now, with warm weather and team bonding. I think it will make the team much closer and stronger. We got the three points against Hull and we will take that with us to Bolton."

In the news: Blackburn will be without a Saturday home game for four months after their March 6 Premier League game against Birmingham City was rearranged. Meanwhile, Gary Cahill's hopes of making England's World Cup squad hang in the balance as he faces several months out of action with a blood clot in his arm. He is making progress, but it would be impressive if he was able to make it back on the pitch before the end of the season.

Blackburn team news: Blackburn have the luxury of an almost fully fit squad. David Dunn is a slight doubt as he has a calf problem, while Christopher Samba misses out as he is still suspended after a red card against Stoke. Vince Grella and Yildiray Basturk could be involved.

Bolton team news: Zat Knight is a doubt as he has a calf strain, while striker Ivan Klasnic has the same problem and may also not make the game. Gavin McCann is still out with an ankle injury and Bolton's rock at the back, Gary Cahill, will miss most of the season with a blood clot in arm.

Probable Blackburn team (4-4-2): Robinson, Emerton, Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda, Basturk, Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Kalinic, Roberts.

Probable Bolton team (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Ricketts, O'Brien, Steinsson, Gardner, Muamba, Taylor, Chung-yong Lee, Elmander, Davies.

Soccernet prediction: Bolton's shocking away form suggests that they will do well to get a point, but a draw may be the most likely result given that neither side has set the world alight this season.


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