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Sun 22/01
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Blackburn Preview

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 23/04/2001

GRIMSBY TOWN entertain promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night in front of the live Sky TV cameras. Following a disappointing performance against Sheffield United on Saturday, The Mariners will be hoping for a vast improvement against Graeme Souness' men.

After defeat at the hands of The Blades, Grimsby are still far from safe at the foot of the First Division table - in spite of numerous players performing on Saturday as though the season was already over. As manager Lennie Lawrence is aware, any repetition of that lack of passion and commitment will undoubtedly result in disaster if repeated on Tuesday evening. "I am not sure if we are totally safe, I hope we are and we have to improve or against Blackburn it will be a cricket score," he warned. Lawrence also hinted at his frustration in not being able to make changes as a result of the fragility of his under-staffed squad, as he added: "Two or three players who have not been playing in the side recently failed to make any contribution to the game which is concerning and suddenly we look extremely short on bodies." Stacy Coldicott is expected to return to Town's starting lineup having missed out on Saturday after picking up a last-minute thigh strain, with the ineffective Menno Willems returning to his more accustomed role of warming the Grimsby bench. Mariners left-back Tony Gallimore was given a torrid time against United's tricky Paul Devlin at the weekend and the former Carlisle man can expect another difficult 90 minutes on Tuesday as he comes face-to-face with Rovers winger Keith Gillespie. The ex-Newcastle United star has recently been enjoying a new lease of life at Ewood Park after a period of unsettlement that saw him linked with a move to Portugese giants Benfica at the turn of the year. Although a win on Tuesday would guarantee a play-off berth for Blackburn, their minds are firmly focused on securing the second automatic promotion spot behind recently crowned champions Fulham. "It would be great to give something nice back to the fans after what they had to endure last year," admitted Gillespie. "We are going to have to be focused because it's always hard at this time of the year as teams are fighting for points for different reasons. There's probably a little bit of pressure on us because everyone expects us to go up now." Rovers boss Graeme Souness believes that his side must take the game to The Mariners if they are to come away from Blundell Park with maximum points, saying: "We have to go for the jugular and that might mean us conceding goals but, hopefully, it will mean us scoring them as well. "That's how we play our football. Everyone wants to get out of this league and share in what's going on in the Premiership." Historically, Blackburn rarely enjoy their trips to the east coast, having won on just two of their last ten visits to Cleethorpes, with the last meeting between the two sides ending in a goalless draw during the 1999/2000 season. Grimsby Town (from): Coyne, McDermott, Groves Handyside, Gallimore, Donovan, Pouton, Willems, Campbell, Livingstone, Cornwall, Hyldgaard, Butterfield, D Smith, Jeffrey, Clare. Blackburn Rovers (from): Friedel, Curtis, Bjornebye, Short, Flitcoft, Dunn, Jansen, Bent, Gillespie, Berg, Mahon, Filan, Hughes, Hignett, Johnson, Berkovic.

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