GARY Bowyer paid tribute to patched-up Blackburn Rovers after they kept their season alive with a 4-2 victory at Birmingham City inspired by hat-trick hero Rudy Gestede.
But Rovers boss Bowyer, having seen his side move within two points of the play-offs with two games of the campaign to play, will not be getting carried away ahead of another must-win match at Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Bowyer, who was without eight first-team players, said: “We’re going into the Charlton game with something to play for.
“We said before this game that it was about keeping our season alive and that’s what we’ve done.
“Rudy was a handful but everybody contributed massively.
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“All we can do is focus on our performances and what we can control – and we’ve said that for a long time now.
“Only on Friday people were writing us off, saying that was the end of the play-offs.
“But I’ve always said the Championship has got more twists to come – with two minutes to go in the final games of the season there is going to be another twist.
“We’ve just got to stay level and try and not get carried away, which we’ve done throughout the season.
“We’ve just got to prepare properly for the game at Charlton now as it is going to be very difficult.”
Bowyer was delighted with Rovers’ exhilarating first-half performance in which they raced into a four-goal lead courtesy of Gestede’s first hat-trick of his career and right-back Todd Kane’s second goal of the season.
Kane, along with Markus Olsson, Corry Evans and the excellent Josh King, were recalled after Michael Keane (knee), Tommy Spurr (groin), Lee Williamson (neck) and Tom Cairney (groin) were ruled out after picking up knocks in Good Friday’s 0-0 home draw with Yeovil Town.
Spurr, previously Rovers’ sole ever present in the league, didn’t travel.
Keane, Williamson and Cairney did but, along with David Dunn (calf), the quartet all failed late fitness tests.
Bowyer, who was already without Ben Marshall, Dickson Etuhu and Adam Henley, also saw Jason Lowe pick up an ankle injury in the second half.
But the midfielder battled on – out of position up front – as Rovers had used all three of their substitutes.
“Hopefully the lads will recover and give us a selection problem for Saturday,” added Bowyer, who was unhappy with the manner of Birmingham’s second-half goals.
The victory extended Rovers’ unbeaten league run to 10 matches, the current longest in the Championship and the club’s longest since February 2001.
Bowyer, whose free-scoring side have netted 24 goals during that time, said: “This time last year when we came here we had just escaped relegation so we have made a bit of progress.
“So I’m proud of the group to have gone 10 games unbeaten.
“They’ve had to go through a hell of a lot this season but they’ve stuck together and they’ve believed in what they want to do.
“But it’s not finished yet. We’ve got two more big games.”
Following the trip to Charlton, Rovers host Wigan Athletic, on the final day of the season.