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Although Blackburn looked well on course to be a factor in the automatic promotion race at the midway point, Tony Mowbray would have been wary of half the season still being remaining.
Nevertheless, he could not have anticipated the magnitude of the drop-off in form that his side have suffered, collecting just 18 points from as many games since the turn of the year.
Remarkably, just 10 goals have been scored during those games, the most recent coming from leading marksman Ben Brereton Diaz against Peterborough United on Friday, the Chile international netting for the first time since December.
However, despite that goal coming in the 77th minute, playing with 10 men since the 41st minute ultimately did for Rovers, who conceded two late goals to lose to the division’s 23rd-placed side.
While Rovers have somehow managed to stay within two points of the playoff places, Mowbray will leave his players in no doubt that only a win will do against their next opponents.
Blackburn will be forced into at least one change with Tayo Edun serving a one-match ban for his dismissal against Peterborough.
Joe Rothwell may come back into the side as his replacement, providing that he has recovered from illness, but Bradley Johnson and Bradley Dack are also on standby.
Harry Pickering and Tyrhys Dolan are options at left wing-back and in attack if Mowbray decides to further freshen his side up.
O’Neill is expected to make alterations to his Stoke XI with Romaine Sawyers and Josh Maja both in line to feature in midfield and attack.
Ben Wilmot is pushing for a recall in defence, but youngster William Forrester should feature for the third game in succession.
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Blackburn Rovers possible starting lineup:
Kaminski; Lenihan, Van Hecke, Wharton; Nyambe, Travis, Rothwell, Pickering; Buckley; Dolan, Brereton Diaz
Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Bonham; Forrester, Jagielka, Harwood-Bellis; Smith, Baker, Allen, Sawyers, Tymon; Maja, Brown