BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer firmly believes this season should be seen as one of improvement – no matter if his side miss out on the play-offs.
Victory in their last game of the campaign at home to Wigan Athletic on Saturday would move Rovers up to 70 points.
That would be 12 points more than they achieved last season when the threat of a second successive relegation hung over the club right up until the final match.
A total of 70 points would also have been enough to guarantee sixth place in 2012-13.
But, barring a freak set of results on the last day, it will not be enough to secure the final play-off pace this time around.
However Bowyer insists failure to make the top six should not detract from the progress that Rovers have made under his command.
But he has also stressed there is plenty of more work to do.
Bowyer said: “The progress we’ve made is down to a lot of people.
“The backroom staff and the players, they’ve really bought into what we want to try and do and achieve.
“We all know what this club has been through and we can’t rest, we’ve got a hell of a lot to do.
“We’ve got Wigan on Saturday and we’ll see what that brings but then we’ve got another big and important summer. We’ve got to continue and get better.”
In pre-season Bowyer will aim to maintain and improve the squad which has taken Rovers to the edge of the play-offs.
But, with Financial Fair Play coming into force in January, he must also continue to attempt to trim the club’s hefty wage bill.
It is almost certain that Rovers, who are unbeaten in 11 games, will start next season in the Championship even if they beat Wigan on Saturday.
Rovers also require Brighton to lose at Nottingham Forest and Reading to lose at home to promoted Burnley while overturning a seven-goal swing on Reading, who occupy sixth spot.
Bowyer is set to be boosted by the return of David Dunn and Dickson Etuhu for the visit of the Latics after the pair returned to training on Tuesday.
Fellow midfielder Jason Lowe could also come into contention but it is unlikely left back Tommy Spurr will be fit as he continues to struggle with a groin injury.
But Ben Marshall, who has been sidelined for three months with ankle-ligament damage, could be named in Bowyer’s squad.