Tony Mowbray sees why David Wagner fielded weakened Huddersfield team but worried on integrity

Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray gestures during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ewood Park, Blackburn.
Image: Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray gestures during the Sky Bet Championship match at Ewood Park, Blackburn

Tony Mowbray can understand Huddersfield boss David Wagner's decision to play a weakened team but does worry about the effect on football's integrity.

Mowbray's Blackburn Rovers side goes into the final game of the season in the final relegation place, tied with Nottingham Forest on 48 points ahead of their clash with Brentford on Sunday.

But their chances of survival were not helped by Birmingham's 2-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday when Wagner, with one eye on the play-offs, made 10 changes for the clash with Harry Redknapp's side.

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That victory enabled them to keep their two-point lead over Rovers, who were 1-0 winners at home to Aston Villa, while Nottingham Forest were dragged deeper into trouble by a 1-0 defeat at QPR - they are level on points with Blackburn but have a goal difference advantage of just one.

Mowbray told Sky Sports News HQ: "I fully understand the decision, to be honest. I've been a manager a long time now, and particularly in cup competitions you make eight, nine, 10 changes to give your squad a game.

"I think the manager at Huddersfield has seen it as job done, we've made the playoffs, and he's been able to pick a team for a game which doesn't really matter. What matters is trying to win the playoffs.

"I understand his reasoning but the bigger picture is the integrity of the league.

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"I could sit here and say 'Oh I was really good friends with [Brentford boss] Dean Smith and I've had a chat with him, he's going to put his kids out on Saturday' but how would that appear to Nottingham Forest or Birmingham City.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa

"It doesn't happen. We've all got a right to go and try to win every game. David Wagner probably thought he could go to Birmingham with the team he put out and win.

"The score highlights it - Birmingham have struggled to win matches over the last couple of months, but with 10 men for over an hour they managed to win 2-0. You might argue Harry Redknapp's intervention had something to do with it but it does seem an unusual result I suppose.

"It doesn't matter, I feel as if I can sit here bleating about it but we have to look after ourselves."

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