MICHAEL Appleton is bidding to bring at least three new players to Ewood Park this month after admitting a “completely unbalanced” Rovers squad needs a big rebuild.
The Rovers boss allowed Mauro Formica to complete a loan move to Italian club Palermo yesterday and admitted there could be more departures as he looks to bring some balance to the ranks.
Former Portsmouth head of recruitment Luke Dowling is expected to be confirmed in a similar position at Rovers today – ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round trip to Derby County – and will be tasked with a key role in achieving Appleton’s vision.
Appleton admits it will take a summer of recruitment before he can assemble the squad strength he believes is essential, but insisted at least three signings were needed ahead of Thursday’s close of the transfer window.
He said: “I would like to bring in a minimum of three. I am reasonably confident we can do that before next Thursday. It (the squad) is totally unbalanced. We have probably got 10 or 12 number 10s.
“Yet we find ourselves with an injury to one of our young players Adam Henley and we had to go out on loan to get a young right back because we have an experienced right back playing for another Championship club on loan.
“At left back we have Martin Olsson and, with the interest from West Ham as it is, the only other option we would have is young Josh Morris, who is not particularly a left back anyway.
“The balance of the squad has to be addressed, you are not going to be able to do that after coming into the building for a few weeks.”
Appleton insists it would still take a ‘significant bid’ to lure Martin Olsson away from Ewood Park, a lot larger than the £4million West Ham are understood to have offered, and has said it would take similar to land centre half Scott Dann – who was yesterday linked with interest from QPR.
But, while not ruling out the departure of Paul Robinson and Gael Givet this month, Appleton believes there could be exits for others he feels are surplus to requirements.
Having worked with Dowling at Fratton Park, Appleton insists he has been brought in to play a big part in the club’s future.
He said: “Luke is fantastic at what he does. He is clever enough to set up a structure to make sure all of what we have talked about never happens again.
“When we get to the summer and recruit the right staff, there will be a conveyor belt that continues for years and years so we will never fall short again.
“He will also help to get certain players out whose time at the club has come to an end. He is almost like my right arm. I call him my mobile phone because he is taking and answering all the calls that I can’t.
“We have a lot of players at the moment but a lot of players who are very, very similar. So as much as the squad is quite big, it is not big at all in terms of strength in depth.
“Sometimes when I look at other sides and the balance of their squad I am quite jealous. That shows good recruitment.
“We are finding it very difficult, if we get an injury or suspension to a key player, we might have to make two or three changes to the team to fit one who is coming in.
“That is a longer term plan that has to be put in place and it will be.”
Appleton confirmed he had made an enquiry about West Brom defender Craig Dawson, who has opted to join Bolton on loan, while it is understood Manchester City left sided defender Karim Rekik is on his radar.
No signings are expected to be made before the weekend.
Former Portsmouth fitness coach Chris Neville is also expected to join the Rovers staff, while Appleton is hopeful of appointing a first team coach by the end of the weekend.