Owls on trail of another night of Ewood glory

Goal star: Petter Rudi scored twice in a 4-1 win when the Owls last played at Blackburn in the top flight
Goal star: Petter Rudi scored twice in a 4-1 win when the Owls last played at Blackburn in the top flight
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WEDNESDAY will tonight enter the scene of some shocking defeats and glorious triumphs when they face Blackburn at Ewood Park.

There has rarely been a dull moment in a 139-game rivalry between the clubs that dates back to 1880.

Tonight’s game may be seen as relatively unimportant in an age when the League Cup is a devalued competition.

But it was not always so: Wednesday memorably beat Rovers in a two-leg semi-final, 4-2 at Ewood and 2-1 at Hillsborough on their way to finishing runners-up to Arsenal in 1993.

The last Premier League clashes between the clubs brought an Owls double, which included a 4-1 victory away and two rare goals from Petter Rudi, in 1998-99, preceded by 3-0 home win.

But Blackburn wins include a 7-2 home romp in the season before that, when Benito Carbone scored both goals and was sent off.

Rovers also beat Wednesday 2-0 at home when the clubs last met in the League, 10 years ago, and had their League Cup revenge in the 2002 semi-final, with 4-2 and 2-1 triumphs at Hillsborough and Ewood.

The Owls will still be widely perceived as underdogs tonight though Blackburn have had their problems in the Premier League, losing 2-1 at home to Wolves then 3-1 at Villa. They play at home to Everton on Saturday.

Rovers have also come under fire from fans; those first two results having followed a summer of 11 departures and only four new arrivals.

Right-back Michel Salgado said: “The fans’ frustration is normal. We need to win games to get them back.

I can understand they are really disappointed, we are as well.

“The team spirit is really good and I think we will get the results they are expecting and, with hard work, we can get them back.”

So Steve Kean’s squad will look upon tonight’s tie as an opportunity to get their season under way.

Salgado will also be glad when the transfer window closes next Wednesday, because then all uncertainty about the composition of the squad will have been removed.

He said: “I think we need to know the players who are going to train with us and who are going to play with us all season.

“We don’t know if new signings are coming, if players are leaving, so it is very difficult.

“We need to know as soon as possible as it is especially difficult for the manager to work like that. We didn’t have a lot of time to work in pre- season with the new faces and it is not easy. We have been working in pre-season with 14 senior players.

Manager Kean says his confidence in his players last season was justified and it will be the same this season:

“I can take any pressure because at the end of the day when you are doing the right things with the players, when the players are together, when the spirits are good, you know you will be okay.”