Big Match Preview: Blues v Blackburn
Southend United begin the new EFL season with a mouth-watering tie at Roots Hall against former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers.
And Blues know they face a tough task against Tony Mowbray’s side, with Rovers starting out the season as bookies-favourites for the title and an immediate return to the Championship.
It’ll be the first time in over 25-years since the two sides last met in a competitive game and there’ll be a whole host of new players on show for both sides come 3pm on Saturday.
Having missed out on the play-offs by one-point last season, Phil Brown will want to see his Blues side make a fast start to this campaign as they look to go a step closer this season.
Southend United: WLDWW
Blackburn Rovers: LWWWLW
One To Watch
Tony Mowbray boasts an impressive squad of players to choose from, but our one to look out for on the opening day is former Premier League striker Danny Graham.
Despite a dismal season for Rovers overall, Graham still managed to notch 13-goals last season to be Blackburn’s top goal scorer last campaign.
One of those goals gave Blackburn the lead in their Emirates F.A. Cup tie against Manchester United, and Graham has scored goals almost everywhere he’s been.
The 31-year old came to prominence during his time at Carlisle where his scoring exploits saw him move to Watford where he was their top scorer two seasons running before a switch to Premier League Swansea City.
Graham’s goal scoring prowess stalled somewhat during his time at Sunderland, but after a successful loan spell with Rovers, the 6ft1 striker made his move to Ewood Park permanent last year.
Last Three Encounters
10th March 1992: Blackburn Rovers (Price, Speedie) 2 vs 2 (Ansah, Angell) Southend United
5th November 1991: Southend United (Angell 2, Benjamin) 3 vs 0 Blackburn Rovers
2nd February 1980: Southend United 0 vs 1 Blackburn Rovers
New signings Michael Kightly, Stephen Hendrie, Amadou Ba and Rob Kiernan are all in line to make their Blues debuts on Saturday having signed for the club during the summer.
One new signing who will miss out though will be Michael Turner as the defender was ruled out for at least a month with a hamstring problem picked up in pre-season.
Defender Ben Coker will also miss out after suffering a leg fracture that is expected to keep him out for up to six months.
Rovers will be sweating on the fitness of defensive pair Darragh Lenihan and Charlie Mulgrew as both were left out of Rovers’ friendly defeat to Carlisle United last Friday.
Experienced midfielder Peter Whittingham looks set to make his Rovers debut after joining from Cardiff in the summer, whilst Jayson Leutwiler will be challenging for David Raya’s spot in goal.
Simon Cox, Southend United Striker;
“I’m just looking forward to putting all the hard work into practice now. Our start isn’t the easiest.
“We have two clubs who have been relegated and one who has been promoted in the first three league games, but it’s a good test for us and we want to see where we are as a group.
“If we get a good number of points from those matches then it will stand us in good stead.”
David Raya, Blackburn Rovers Goalkeeper;
"Obviously we can't wait to start the season. We need to start with the right mentality and hopefully start with a win.
"You have to work week to week, but you have to have your goals during the season. So, for us coming down from the Championship to League One we have to get back there straight away.
"There'll be pressure from outside and from the fans because they'll want us to get back to the Championship straight away, but we cannot feel that. We just have to do the right things and if we do our jobs then we'll do alright."