Leeds United will face Championship side Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday in their first match against professional opponents since the final day of the 2020/21 Premier League season.
The Whites kickstart their pre-season campaign with a trip to non-league neighbours Guiseley tomorrow, a game quickly followed by a visit to Ewood Park.
Tony Mowbray’s side have already played two pre-season friendlies but have seen preparations for the new season hindered by absences and a squad left short on options by a number of departures since the end of last season.
Rovers are also yet to make a single signing, despite the exits of senior figures Amari’i Bell, Elliott Bennett, Stewart Downing, Corry Evans, Lewis Holtby and Charlie Mulgrew.
With speculation still surrounding the future of star marksman Adam Armstrong, Blackburn are a club clouded in uncertainty less than two weeks before the beginning of the Championship season.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will auto-play soon8Cancel
Injuries have added to Blackburn’s woes, making a squad already made light by departures even lighter. Scott Wharton and Bradley Dack remain long-term absentees whilst Joe Rankin-Costello, Bradley Johnson, Lewis Travis, Tyrhys Dolan, Ben Brereton and Sam Gallagher were all missing during Blackburn’s defeat to Bradford City on Saturday.
They were even without their manager on Saturday as Mowbray was self-isolating and it us unclear whether he will be on the touchline at Ewood Park on Wednsesday
Brereton, Gallagher and Dolan are in line to return against Leeds but the large quantity of players still unavailable is likely to force Rovers into fielding players from their under-23 side against the Whites.
Rovers forward Adam Armstrong has scored a glut of goals last season
(Image: Getty Images/Jan Kruger)
Darragh Lenihan was forced off with a facial injury in the friendly defeat to the Bantams, further adding to Blackburn’s woes.
Leeds are of course likely to rotate themselves, as it is customary to hand opportunities to young players and those on the fringe in pre-season.
However, with Blackburn light on senior options, they may not come up against the sort of challenge they perhaps anticipated when the match was arranged.
The two sides last met when Leeds were closing in on a return to the Premier League and it was the Whites who emerged victorious, winning 3-1 thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich.
Rovers underwhelmed last season despite making some promising signings, including left-back Barry Douglas on loan from the Whites.
They finished 15th in the second tier and will be desperate to improve this season, although may find it tough if reinforcements do not arrive before their season opener against Swansea City on 7 August.
Leeds follow the trip to Blackburn with friendlies against Fleetwood Town, Real Betis and Ajax.