Liverpool set to meet Blackburn Rovers first-team duo ahead of deciding game

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Blackburn Rovers duo Scott Wharton and Joe Rankin-Costello are both set to take part in the Premier League 2 Division One Under-23 game against Liverpool on Monday night (7pm kick-off).

The first-team pair, who are both in the final stages of their respective pardons, will be included in Mike Sheron’s starting XI in a bit to boost their match-sharpness.

Wharton appeared for the U23s in their last outing against Manchester United at Leigh Village, playing 64 minutes of their 3-0 loss.

Rankin-Costello appeared for the development team in late August in a draw against Leicester City, which lasted until the break before being substituted. It was hoped the young all-rounder would return to the first-team stage by mid-September, but a series of setbacks delayed his progress as the Rovers had to take a cautious approach with the Rankin-Costello schedule.

“I think Scott (Wharton) can potentially play 90, I think he’s going to play 75 depending on how the game goes, Rankin-Costello a little less, maybe 60 minutes,” Mowbray said of the imminent return. of the duo of the Academy.

“We expect both to play and it’s a smooth transition in the squad and being able to help us.

“For Joe’s career, for his mindset, I want him to feel very confident that he’s ready and not sure he can play 90 minutes.

“The more he plays, the more playing time he gets for the Under 23s, the more he trains again and is around what we do on the training ground, be it a training day of high intensity, Joe has to be in the middle of it for him to feel confident in his body.

Monday’s contest will be a big milestone for Rankin-Costello as he seeks to overcome injury issues that have plagued him since appearing on the first-team stage in January 2020.

His talent is undisputed, but a series of hamstring strains caused him to miss four months of the previous campaign before a fractured metatarsal in the loss to Wycombe Wanderers ended his season prematurely.

The inclusion of Wharton and Rankin-Costello comes to the aid of Sheron’s options with Zak Gilsenan, Ash Phillips and Antonis Stergiakis all unavailable due to injury.

Another opportunity could present itself for outspoken striker Harry Leonard, who has been in scintillating form for the Under-18s with eight goals in six league games, the 18-year-old required given the absences of Sam Burns and Jack. Vale, both of whom are on loan.

The Rovers enter the competition within one point of Liverpool after eight games, but the visitors appeared to have resumed their season with a 3-0 win over Arsenal the week before.

The last meeting between the teams was in April, with the two teams playing an entertaining 2-2 draw at County Ground. Isaac Whitehall put the Rovers in front twice, only for the visitors to fight and equalize with three minutes left thanks to current Rover Leighton Clarkson.

Fans can watch the game in Leyland for free.

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