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Souness Hamstrung for Second Leg


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It has been reported on the Lancashire Evening Telegraph's website that Martin "Tiny" Taylor is doubtful for the game against Celtic with hamstring trouble.

This appears to be the injury of choice for Rovers' players this season. Already Rovers have had to do without Cole, Yorke and Duff for lengthy spells this season because of hamstring problems.

Taylor limped off midway through the Rovers' disappointing performance against Southampton at St Mary's. This leaves Graeme Souness with a real dilemma ahead of the UEFA Cup game with Celtic on Thursday. With the manager admitting that his priority again this season is the Premiership, Taylor will not be rushed back into action. However, Henning Berg is still out with achilles problems and Stig Inge Bjornebye is still some months away from recovering from the horrific injury to his eye socket.

This leaves Craig Short, who has been impressive for Rovers under Souness, and Lucas Neill as the defensive lynchpins, but both struggled to contain the lively Southampton attack, according to reports of Saturday's game. The remaining members of the back four will be permed from Nils Eric Johannson, a centre-back who has struggled as a converted left-back this season, John Curtis, a right-back who can also play in the centre but who has been banished to the reserves for over a year and Andy Todd, whose reputation as a one-paced centre-half cum full-back who is prone to violence has preceded him. Todd came on as a substitute during the Southampton game,  but according to reports he has struggled to adapt to the pace of reserve games, so whether Souness will risk him against Sutton and co remains to be seen.

Quite clearly, the manager has a dilemma on his hands. As usual it will be more or less impossible to second-guess what the manager's strategy will be. He has a habit of confounding even the closest of Rovers' watchers with his selections, which usually turn out to be happily effective. Let us hope that this is the case come this Thursday.

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