Date:Sunday September 17 2006
Blackburn Rovers' UEFA Cup tie against Salzburg would see Paul Gallagher make his first Rovers start in eighteen months.
The 22-year-old Scottish International made a rare start under the leadership of Mark Hughes, his first in fact since his successful loan spell with Stoke last term.
With Steven Reid out with a back injury, Gallagher, a player more familiar to a forward role, although he has featured mainly as a midfielder in his substitute appearances this season would fill in for the Irishman on Thursday night in a right-wing position as part of a packed five-man midfield.
Gallagher feels that he would at least have hopefully done enough to catch Hughes' eye, possibly remaining in the starting eleven to face Manchester City today. He would say:
"With Steven picking up an injury that gave me my chance, although I didn't know I was starting until an hour-and-a-half before kick off."
"I knew it had been a long time since I last started a game for Blackburn, and I was quite nervous, but I enjoyed it."
"I obviously wasn't up front, but I was just happy to be on the pitch, and hopefully I managed to do myself justice and the boss will give me more time out there."
"I hope I at least did enough to keep my place. I know we've a good squad, with players who can play anywhere."
His loan with Stoke provided him with an ideal opportunity to prove to Hughes his worth, his twelve goals in thirty-six first team outings with the Championship outfit, a strike rate of one goal in three games seems to have done enough to impress Sparky. He would also say:
"Last season was good for me and I feel I did well, not only for Stoke, but also for myself."
"I learned more about the game, and hopefully that will show over the course of the season."
The summer arrivals suggested to some people that maybe his time at Ewood Park could possibly come to an end or at least a further loan spell be on the cards, but before a ball was even kicked this season, Hughes would be quick to say that he wanted him to stay and fight for his first team place, which he is doing.
His performance gives Hughes something to at least ponder, and leaves him with a good chance of retaining his place, although it is more than likely he would have to make the most of another probable substitute appearance with Shabani Nonda or Francis Jeffers likely to partner Benni McCarthy up front in a 4-4-2 formation, as a home game is highly unlikely to see just the one forward utilised in a 4-5-1 formation. Although Gallagher would be worth it I'm not sure he'd be selected to partner McCarthy in such a 4-4-2 formation just yet.
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Date:Sunday September 17 2006
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