Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – International break provides respite for Kean

Following Saturday’s courageous comeback against Blackpool, some Rovers stars are heading out on international duty this week. Blues boss Steve Kean will be hoping that those involved in the forthcoming international fixtures are able to stay injury-free as Rovers, who are already short on numbers due to injuries and suspensions, will need all the bodies they can get in order to boost their chances of Premier League survival.

From the handful of Blackburn players who will be playing for their national teams, Grant Hanley’s call-up to the Scotland squad is the most fascinating. The promising 19-year-old has been relatively impressive for Rovers in his nine appearances at club level this season, and the young centre-back scored in his last game against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Although Hanley has not yet been capped for Scotland, manager Craig Levein has decided to name him in the squad to face Brazil at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Indeed, Hanley’s chances of making an appearance in that friendly are slim, given the number of experienced Scottish internationals he will have to get past in order to make the team; nonetheless this call-up indicates that Levein thinks highly of the Rovers defender, who certainly has a promising future in football. And if the young Scot does manage to get some game time against the famous South American side, then it will surely be a proud day for him and his family.

Meanwhile, Norwegian midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen is likely to face neighbours Denmark in a Euro 2012 qualifier. Norway currently have a 100% record in qualifying, winning all three of their games. Pedersen, who has not exactly been a regular in the Rovers line-up of late, could earn his 66th cap if he features against the Danes.

Another midfielder who has been named to play for his national team is Brett Emerton. The Australian, who missed some of Rovers’ Premier League schedule earlier in the season when he travelled to compete in the Asian Cup in January, is part of a small 17-man squad named to face Germany in a friendly on Tuesday 29 March.

Republic of Ireland star Keith Andrews was selected to join up with Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad to face Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier and World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay in a friendly. However, the former MK Dons midfielder, who has failed to feature for Ireland all season due to injury, has been sidelined meaning he will once again miss out on the chance to represent his national team.

Another player who has pulled out of international duty is Rovers’ club captain Ryan Nelsen. The defender, who recently travelled to Christchurch following a devastating earthquake in New Zealand, has picked up a knee injury following the last game against Blackpool, where he played a full 90 minutes. Nelsen had been called up to the All Whites squad to face China in a friendly.

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