MICHAEL Appleton insists he has no regrets about allowing an Ewood Park transfer deadline day exodus – after insisting he only wants players desperate to be at Blackburn Rovers.
Sections of Rovers supporters have raised their eyebrows at the decision to allow fans’ favourite Ruben Rochina leave for Real Zaragoza on loan – especially after the club failed to secure their own targets – but Appleton insists he would make the same decision again.
Ahead of this afternoon’s Championship visit of Bristol City, Rochina was joined out of the exit door by Simon Vukcevic, Diogo Rosado and Jordan Slew, with no players coming the other way.
The Rovers boss revealed he had already picked his side for this afternoon’s clash before the last few hours of deadline day drama, in which Rochina didn’t feature.
He said: “I would most definitely have still let the others go. We have more than enough players for tomorrow’s game. I always knew the window would reopen next Thursday, you are only talking about one game.
“It was only Ruben who would have featured anyway and I had picked the team and he would have been on the substitutes bench. The players knew that and maybe that played a part of his decision.
“Did I expect to lose Ruben Rochina at the start of yesterday morning? Probably not. But the decision behind that was he didn’t want to be at the football club and wanted to leave. Obviously that is his choice, I am a little bit disappointed but we are not in a position to keep players at the football cub who don’t want to put the Blackburn shirt on.
“It is important we get back to having players who want to be here. This is a great football club with a great tradition. I want players to come to this club who want to be at this club.
“I have made that message very, very clear to the players. They are aware of what has happened to Ruben over night and I have made it very, very clear if there is anyone else who feels the same, they know where my room is.
“I am sure, I would be amazed if there is not every single Blackburn Rovers fan out there thinking exactly the same.”
While Rovers waved goodbye to several of their squad on Thursday, potential departees Paul Robinson and Gael Givet remain at the club.
A move to West Ham for Robinson broke down, while Givet – who has made clear his desire to leave – had a shortage of realistic suitors.
Appleton said: “Me and Paul have obviously had conversations but not at one time has he said he doesn’t want to play for the football club.
“I’m not saying he is not going to leave the club at some point or he is not going to play. It is important we have a dialogue so I know where he is at.
“I don’t know what will happen.
“Until he is fit and training, I can’t give you a clarification.
“With Gael, It is two fold. Whether someone wants to be at the club or not, ultimately if there is an opportunity for a lad to leave the club, he has to actually really want to leave and you need to find a club that wants to take him.
“And if there is not a football club that wants to take him then there is no point chasing the issue or trying to drum up some interest that is not there. Until we hear differently, Gael is a Blackburn player.”
Bradley Orr returns to the Rovers’ squad for this afternoon’s visit of his former club, but Appleton is yet to decide on the future of Chelsea loanee Todd Kane.
“I have not made my mind up on Todd,” he said. “A lot will depend on what happens next Thursday. I have to get the balance right in the squad. I don’t want a stupid number of people in the building, which is what I had last week in terms of too many bodies.
“It becomes a vicious circle if you have too many bodies. Some managers like having bodies around them, some like working with small groups because you have that competitive side to it.
“I just like working with quality players. If I have 21 or 22 quality players fighting like cats and dogs trying to get in the starting 11 then that is when I am most happy.”