Blackburn V Man Utd at Ewood Park : Match Preview

18 February 2017
Blackburn V Man Utd - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Owen Coyle: Blackburn must be ready to punish any Manchester United slip

Blackburn manager Owen Coyle has told his players to savour sharing a pitch with Manchester United but be ready to punish them if their standards slip.

Back in the mid-90s Rovers and United were title rivals in the Premier League but time has not been kind to the former and success this season would constitute avoiding relegation from the second tier.

Sunday's FA Cup fifth round offers a chance to forget their survival battle and renew acquaintances with the Red Devils, an opportunity that Coyle is excited by.

He expects his team to rise to the occasion and give themselves a fighting chance to pull of an upset.

"To play an elite club like Manchester United is a wonderful opportunity," said Coyle.

"Particularly for our young players it's a chance to stand toe to toe with world-class players. As opposed to sitting at home watching those world-class players on TV they are going up against them.

"This game is a chance for some of those players to see how far they've got to go, to say 'maybe I need to hone my craft a little, this is what I need to do'.

"We know if we play to our best and Manchester United play to their best then, ordinarily, they will win. But if they are slightly off that's how shocks are created. It can happen in cup games.

"We need two things to happen - for us to be at our very best and for Man United to be off their game.

"That can happen in cup games and if it does we have to be ready to maximise our opportunity."

Coyle's team selection is largely dictated by those players he does not have available.

Hope Akpan and Elliott Bennett are suspended after an ill-tempered loss to Sheffield Wednesday, Lucas Joao is cup-tied and Corry Evans and Tommie Hoban have yet to return from injury.

Sunday's match sees United continue their defence of the trophy they won by beating Crystal Palace at Wembley in May.

Midfielder Ander Herrera has fond memories of last term's run in "the most amazing cup in the world" and admits he is feeling "very optimistic" about their prospects this time around.

"It's the oldest competition in England and I think it's the most amazing cup in the world because of the organisation," Herrera said.

"For me, the organisation in England is fantastic. The last four play the semi-final one game and then the final (is) at Wembley too and it's fantastic for the fans.

"Every club wants to win the FA Cup, teams not in the top six even more as they can get in the Europa League (by winning it). So it's a fantastic competition to play in.

"We want to keep playing in it and win away against Blackburn.

"We have very good memories from last season and I'm very optimistic because we have a very good squad."

Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are doubts for Sunday's game.

Rooney and Carrick missed Thursday's Europa League match against St Etienne with minor muscular injuries, with Mkhitaryan absent from the last-32 first leg through illness.

Centre-back Jones will be hoping to return from a foot injury in time to face his former club, while Luke Shaw is pushing for a chance after being overlooked for United's previous four squads.