Blackburn Rovers Vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sat 13 Aug 2011

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Blackburn could be without their two most experienced central defenders for their opening match of the Barclays Premier League season at home to Wolves.

Chris Samba is doubtful with a groin injury while Ryan Nelsen, though back in training, is still feeling the after-effects of his knee operation.

New midfield signing Radosav Petrovic is unlikely to have received his visa in time to play while Rovers revealed Brazilian full-back Bruno Ribeiro, signed on Friday, could be included.

Despite a host of departures and the fact Rovers only ensured Barclays Premier League survival on the last day of last season - against Wolves - Kean is targeting a top-10 finish.

"We have had a great pre-season and it's an exciting time," he said. "The lads have adapted to what we are trying to do and how we are trying to play and we saw some of that towards the end of last season.

"We want to finish in the top half of the table and by the end of the transfer window there is no reason why we can't have assembled a squad capable of doing that."

Kean said the key would be transforming Blackburn's second-half displays, for it was in the final 45 minutes of matches where they often came unstuck.

"It's not down to fitness," he added. "We have spent a lot of time working on how we approach second halves and the manner in which we play."

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle is winning his battle to be fit.

Doyle withdrew from the Republic of Ireland squad for the midweek international against Croatia due to a knee injury, but Wolves boss Mick McCarthy believes he has a "70-30" chance of being available.

New skipper and summer signing Roger Johnson, from Birmingham, will make his competitive debut, but Midfielders Dave Edwards (back) and Adlene Guedioura (ankle) miss out.

McCarthy has challenged his side to become more than mere Barclays Premier League survivors.

Wolves escaped relegation on the final day of last season at Birmingham's expense despite being beaten in front of their own fans by Rovers.

It guaranteed a third successive campaign of top flight football but McCarthy is now looking for his side to establish themselves among the elite.

He said: "I don't always want to keep saying 'we only want to survive' although that's the intention of a lot of Premier League clubs to start with.

"I thought we could finish higher but don't start thinking that we're thinking we're a European team.

"But we want to keep finishing as high as we can and keep improving.

"I'm convinced we could have got 47 points last season and I think we can get to those levels this season."

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Roger Johnson
Premier League
Kevin Doyle
Ryan Nelsen
Adlene Guedioura

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