THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Pair's league form is poor

icon facup29 March ~ It isn't difficult to see why Millwall v Blackburn was the fourth choice FA Cup quarter-final from a broadcaster's perspective. Supporters of both teams will understand the limited appeal of a game between two teams currently in such miserable form. Between them they have lost 12 and won only four matches in the previous 20, Millwall losing seven of their last ten and Blackburn now some distance away from promotion after dropping out of the top six. It's hard to see either having the capacity to kill off the other so having to go through it all again wouldn't be a suprise.

Rovers spent big (in Championship terms) using their parachute payment to finance large wages attracting some supposedly top players. They have mostly turned out to be a rag-bag of Premier League failures prepared to pick up their salaries without putting in a decent shift. There are a handful of noticeable exceptions, including Jordan Rhodes with 21 goals in all competitions and young goalkeeper Jake Kean, but the performance against Peterborough last week sparked manager Michael Appleton into a fury.

A solid start immediately after he took over (where he at least stabilised the defence) has been followed by a terrible run of performances. Particularly guilty were captain Danny Murphy, unwanted right-back Bradley Orr and on-loan David Bentley, all of whom were deservedly dropped for the midweek Bolton Wanderers game.

Millwall have struggled to compete consistently in the Championship, losing four of their last five home league games but have managed to beat Blackburn away already this season so go into this fixture as slight favourites. Injuries to Arsenal loan-signing Benik Afobe and winger James Henry mean they have a depleted squad but, with a good attendance expected, supporters feel they are capable of beating a Rovers team thrashed at home by bottom club Peterborough last Saturday.

One of the few bright spots on the horizon for the away team is the possibility of a return for striker Leon Best, who has already looked good in the reserve games he has played on his comeback from a serious knee ligament injury. With a Wembley semi-final a distinct possibility even some of the old lags picking up their wages at Ewood should be able to raise their performance in what Appleton is already describing as a "last chance saloon" for some of them. With local rivals Burnley arriving next Sunday these promise to be a defining seven days in the career of Rovers' new manager, who could be permanently destabilised by a heavy derby defeat. Bruce Wilkinson

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