Allardyce determined to turn tide

Blackburn manager keen to upset odds against Villa and reach Carling Cup final

Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn Rovers manager, will again settle for wasting bottles of champagne and another ruined suit if it means Rovers are in the Carling Cup final.

Six years ago Allardyce conjured an improbable semi-final result with Bolton over Aston Villa, winning an astonishing first leg 5-2 at the Reebok Stadium before enduring an onslaught in the return at Villa Park.

Bolton lost 2-0 on the night, but ultimately reached the final 5-4 on aggregate, which led to Allardyce being soaked in the dressing room by his players as they uncorked the bubbly.

Following his drenching it led to one of Allardyce's more colourful quotes as he complained the champagne was sprayed all over his suit rather than being poured down his oesophagus.

Six years on and Allardyce returns to Villa Park facing a far more arduous task as Blackburn head into the second leg of this season's semi-final trailing 1-0 to Martin O'Neill's side.

Asked if he would be happy to have another suit ruined, Allardyce quipped: "Of course I would. I'll settle for anything the lads fancy doing to me within reason if we get through to the final."

Allardyce, though, appreciates that after a run of six away matches without a win, including a 3-1 FA Cup third-round defeat to Villa at the start of the month, the odds are long on a Rovers recovery. However, Sunday's 2-0 Barclays Premier League home win over Fulham has at least raised spirits, ending a winless streak of 10 games in all competitions.

"The lads are all now looking forward to this game after being given a massive boost of confidence with the Fulham result," added Allardyce. "We've had a look at Villa's last two games, our game last Thursday and their 0-0 draw with West Ham on Sunday, and we've drawn up a game-plan. We know we need to get the first goal.

"That will put a few nerves into Aston Villa and, hopefully, we can go on from there and achieve one of the biggest results since this club was last in the Carling Cup final in 2002.

"Let's hope we're all dancing and singing on the way back. But if we take the pressure off Aston Villa and let them score first then it's going to be hugely difficult to come back from a 2-0 deficit. We know we're clearly the underdogs, and our away form suggests we're not going to get anything from the game.

"But in a semi-final of a Carling Cup strange things can happen, and if we score at the right time we can get through. The Premier League is secondary; only getting through to the final means anything to us at this moment in time."

Allardyce will even happily settle for reaching the final via the prospect of penalties, a scenario that occurred in the 2000 FA Cup semi-final with Aston Villa.

Although Bolton under Allardyce lost the shoot-out on that occasion, Allardyce added: "I'd have to say, looking at the situation, I'd be very happy if it went to penalties at Villa Park. Getting through in normal or extra time is what we will try to do, but if you said to me 'will you take penalties now?' I'd have to say 'yes'."

El-Hadji Diouf and Morten Gamst Pedersen are back in contention for the tie, although Lars Jacobsen (thigh), Vince Grella (thigh) and Jason Roberts (knee) all remain sidelined. Diouf has completed a three-match ban sustained following his red card in the FA Cup defeat at Villa, while Pedersen has shaken off a knee injury which forced him to miss the win over Fulham.

Aston Villa striker John Carew is a doubtful starter. The Norway international suffered a knee injury during training on Monday and is battling to be fit. Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is still sidelined with the ankle problem which caused him to miss Sunday's goalless home draw with West Ham. Manager O'Neill is again likely to operate with his No2 goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, which has been his policy in the majority of cup fixtures this season.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before