Villa and Rovers have met no fewer than 10 times since the start of the 2009-2010 campaign, with the most recent fixture taking place in Hong Kong just a few weeks ago, where Alex McLeish’s side emerged victorious in the semi-final of the Barclays Asia Trophy. However, Rovers have added some much-needed quality to their wafer-thin squad since then and they also have the upper hand over Villa in recent league meetings – having won three of their last four top-flight meetings against this weekend’s opponents.
Argentinian ace Mauro Formica – who registered his first goal in Rovers colours during his competitive debut last weekend – dazzled against Villa in Hong Kong and the exciting attacking midfielder could retain his place in the starting line-up. Another one of Rovers’ creative stars, Junior Hoilett, will also be looking to shine. The Canadian wing wizard is reportedly on the verge of signing a lengthy contract with the Ewood Park outfit.
However, the travelling supporters will be looking forward to seeing new signing Radosav Petrovic most of all. The highly-rated Serbian box-to-box midfielder completed his move to Lancashire last week and could form a mean partnership in the middle of the park alongside towering Frenchman Steven N’Zonzi.
N’Zonzi was forced to play as a centre-back last weekend and the former Amiens holding midfielder looked uncomfortable against Wolves’ strike duo of Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle. Rovers – who have won just two of their last 15 league games – also suffered from his absence in midfield. However if both he and Petrovic start in the centre this weekend, then Villa could find it quite difficult to break the visitors down.
Fortunately for Kean, influential skipper Chris Samba is likely to be back for the game, while New Zealand international Ryan Nelsen could also feature. If Rovers can call upon a first-choice back-four, then their chances of claiming victory against familiar foes Villa will be significantly enhanced. They will have to watch out for Darren Bent though – the Englishman has found the net three times in his last four games against Rovers.
Kean is looking to sign a prolific striker of his own before the end of the transfer window, but Rovers’ ambitious move for former Real Madrid superstar Raul appears to be dead as his club Schalke 04 claim the Spaniard has rejected a move to Ewood Park. Nevertheless, the ever-positive Kean is still working hard to bring in new players. FC Dallas defender George John is thought to be a key target, while £2m Montenegrin attacking midfielder Simon Vukcevic is on the verge of completing a move to Blackburn. If all goes to plan, Rovers could have at least three new signings in by the end of August.