Blackburn v West Ham preview

20 March 2009 10:09
Another chapter in the battle to avoid the drop and the race for Europe will be written on Saturday when Blackburn host West Ham.

Rovers currently sit just a point outside the relegation zone and, with only nine games remaining, will be looking anxiously over their shoulder.

They have lost only three of their 12 fixtures since Sam Allardyce took charge at Ewood Park, but have taken just four wins.

Blackburn have also fared badly against London-based opposition this season, managing just one win in eight home games against sides from the capital.

They have also struggled for defensive consistency on home soil, with visitors to Lancashire either scoring twice or failing to find the net in six games since Allardyce replaced Paul Ince.

That bodes well for West Ham, who have won their last five Premier League meetings with Rovers.

The Hammers have lost just one of their last nine matches on the road and remain on course to secure a Europa League spot for next season.

They have kept five clean sheets in seven outings, including in their last three games, but have struggled for goals.

Gianfranco Zola's men have mustered only three in their last six top flight fixtures and must address that issue if they are to remain inside the top seven.

Duo boostAllardyce's plans could be bolstered by the return of Gael Givet and Ryan Nelsen.

Givet is expected to come into contention after a knee problem, while Nelsen has shaken off a thigh injury.

Unfortunately for Rovers, Roque Santa Cruz remains sidelined with a knee injury and will once again be unavailable, while Vince Grella continues to struggle with a groin strain.

Steven Reid and Brett Emerton are nursing knee complaints and will not feature again until next season.

Upson checkWest Ham will make a late check on Matthew Upson's calf injury before they head north.

The England international was forced off against West Brom on Monday and remains a major doubt.

Midfielder Savio Nsereko also requires assessment before the Ewood Park clash after picking up a knock.

Kieron Dyer and Diego Tristan are fit and in contention for a place, while Jack Collison (knee) and Carlton Cole (suspended) are still out.

Possible starting XIsBlackburn: Robinson, Simpson, Samba, Ooijer, Givet, Diouf, Mokoena, Khizanishvili, Warnock, Pedersen, Roberts.

West Ham: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Noble, Kovac, Parker, Savio, Di Michele, Sears.

Source: SKY_Sports