Lancashire TelegraphMy Blackburn Rovers team must relish the pressure, says Appleton (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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My Blackburn Rovers team must relish the pressure, says Appleton

MICHAEL Appleton is excited by the growing pressure on his play-off chasing side after admitting he relishes seeing fear in the opposition eyes.

An in-form Rovers are quickly becoming the side to beat in the Championship, after a six-match unbeaten run and Saturday’s FA Cup win at Arsenal, but Appleton insists they should relish their new-found reputation.

Rovers’ squad struggled to cope with the Championship favourites tag put on them earlier in the campaign but, ahead of tonight’s crucial trip to Hull City, Appleton believes his players are now made of stronger stuff.

Hull boss Steve Bruce has already described Rovers as the team to watch from the chasing pack as Appleton’s men look to close the six-point gap between themselves and the play-off spots.

Appleton said: “As a team coming down from the Premier League, it was always going to be the case that we would be the team to beat and it was about how you deal with it.

“Earlier in the season, there was a time where the team really, really struggled to deal with that pressure. We certainly hope we don’t get ourselves in that type of mess again.

“Dealing with that pressure is quite exciting more than anything because you know they do fear you, you see fear in the opposition eyes. They fear ‘these could turn us over if they play well’.

“What we will always do is respect the opposition. We have a tough period of games and there are a lot of big games.

“Players will have to realise we are the team to beat and getting the result on Saturday just escalates that ten-fold because you are in the press and media.

“Hull is as big or bigger than the Arsenal game. We are coming up against a side who are riding high in the league.

“But there is a bit of a mentality growing around here at the minute, a bit of steeliness and hopefully we can get the right result. ”

Having already added DJ Campbell, David Bentley and Karim Rekik to his squad in the last few weeks, Rovers’ play-off push was boosted further by the sight of seeing Leon Best and Dickson Etuhu feature for the reserves last night. With Adam Henley also featuring for the reserves and David Dunn close to full fitness, Appleton believes strength in depth could be key in a tough season run-in.

He said: “I would prefer a smaller squad with bags of quality and when you find yourselves in the position we are in at the moment, with loads of games, and I need to pull players out because they are looking jaded, I don’t see us any weaker putting another player in.

“There are a few clubs who can do that because they have recruited properly.

“The teams at the top of the table can do it because they have recuited right. If they make changes it doesn’t weaken them.”

Appleton was also keen to stress that Rovers fans shouldn’t expect too much from Best this season with the striker on his way back from a cruciate ligament injury which has prevented him from making a competitive start for Rovers since signing from Newcastle United in the summer.

Appleton added: “Leon is going to be at least a fortnight away from being involved in the first team.

“With his type of injury, his impact will come next season when he has had a pre-season.

“But you know what players are like, they are durable, they are excitable and once they have been training, all of a sudden they think they can be a big influence and maybe they can.

“Maybe the adrenaline will give us something extra from him.”

Appleton added that Etuhu was also close to returning to the starting XI adding further competition for places.

“Dickson has been very good in training for the last fortnight as well. He is chomping at the bit. He is desperate to get back involved,” added Appleton.

“There is a respect between all the players at the minute. They respect each other in terms of their roles. Even when players are not playing and not in the squad they are in the dressing room congratulating each other.”

Comments (12)

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1:58pm Tue 19 Feb 13

bigste says...

Hull are in the top 6, second actually. Losing for Rovers is not an option if the playoffs are to be made. We must take points from any team above us and more so from teams in the top six. Good luck Rovers, do the business.
Hull are in the top 6, second actually. Losing for Rovers is not an option if the playoffs are to be made. We must take points from any team above us and more so from teams in the top six. Good luck Rovers, do the business. bigste
  • Score: 8

2:23pm Tue 19 Feb 13

mike55 says...

What a refreshing attitude from MA. Of course it's all about confidence but you get the impression that the players are raring to go and are prepared to test themselves against anyone. Hopefully the fear that they showed (especially at home) earlier in the season is a thing of the past and the extra reinforcements put everyone's place in the team under threat. Even captain Murphy is now not guaranteed a starting place if he goes off the boil - exactly as it should be.
'
What a refreshing attitude from MA. Of course it's all about confidence but you get the impression that the players are raring to go and are prepared to test themselves against anyone. Hopefully the fear that they showed (especially at home) earlier in the season is a thing of the past and the extra reinforcements put everyone's place in the team under threat. Even captain Murphy is now not guaranteed a starting place if he goes off the boil - exactly as it should be. ' mike55
  • Score: 5

3:11pm Tue 19 Feb 13

vicn1956 says...

How different from the bull SK spouted!
How different from the bull SK spouted! vicn1956
  • Score: 3

3:14pm Tue 19 Feb 13

vicn1956 says...

Other clubs-
"Have recruited PROPERLY!"
Other clubs- "Have recruited PROPERLY!" vicn1956
  • Score: 2

3:33pm Tue 19 Feb 13

MxMave says...

I hope players like Etuhu and Orr arn't going to get upset being a backup option because to be frank, we've been so terrible for so long the fringe players should just be happy that the club is progressing.
I hope players like Etuhu and Orr arn't going to get upset being a backup option because to be frank, we've been so terrible for so long the fringe players should just be happy that the club is progressing. MxMave
  • Score: 2

3:36pm Tue 19 Feb 13

JPainter90 says...

Huge, huge game for us tonight. Especially seeing as Brighton are at Cardiff. Chances are they won't be taking more than a draw away from there and it is a chance to catch them up if all goes to plan. Also having a game in hand over Middlesbrough is good news.

Every game we play against teams just above or just below us is a must win game at the moment. A win tonight will really fill the players, and the fans with confidence we haven't had for a while. Things are looking up, long may it continue.
Huge, huge game for us tonight. Especially seeing as Brighton are at Cardiff. Chances are they won't be taking more than a draw away from there and it is a chance to catch them up if all goes to plan. Also having a game in hand over Middlesbrough is good news. Every game we play against teams just above or just below us is a must win game at the moment. A win tonight will really fill the players, and the fans with confidence we haven't had for a while. Things are looking up, long may it continue. JPainter90
  • Score: 2

4:23pm Tue 19 Feb 13

merlinrabbit says...

I think Burnley play Boro and for once they could do us a huge favorite by beating them because it will keep 6th place in reach
I think Burnley play Boro and for once they could do us a huge favorite by beating them because it will keep 6th place in reach merlinrabbit
  • Score: -1

4:34pm Tue 19 Feb 13

chez rover says...

I love how positive everything is at the moment. I actually look forward to games and listening to players talk in post match interviews. MA really does sound the business. Really wish I could go tonight. I think if I could change anything tho, I'd put Jason Lowe in at RB rather than Orr. But I trust MA which is more than I can about any rovers manager in the last 2 years! COYB!!!
I love how positive everything is at the moment. I actually look forward to games and listening to players talk in post match interviews. MA really does sound the business. Really wish I could go tonight. I think if I could change anything tho, I'd put Jason Lowe in at RB rather than Orr. But I trust MA which is more than I can about any rovers manager in the last 2 years! COYB!!! chez rover
  • Score: 3

5:02pm Tue 19 Feb 13

CARover says...

Ok keep the momentum going with a win at Hull, agreed a bigger game than Arsenal….. as much as I would like progress to the semifinals or beyond in the cup I would rather take a place off spot or then again why not both?
Ok keep the momentum going with a win at Hull, agreed a bigger game than Arsenal….. as much as I would like progress to the semifinals or beyond in the cup I would rather take a place off spot or then again why not both? CARover
  • Score: 1

6:17pm Tue 19 Feb 13

xsblue says...

p for`t` cup come on you blues
p for`t` cup come on you blues xsblue
  • Score: 0

7:39pm Tue 19 Feb 13

juanbbien says...

I like Mr Appletons attitude let's see the fear in the other sides eyes like many sports games,contests can be won before a ball is kicked or a punch thrown,Mike Tyson won many fights before he entered the ring,with a good reputation the Rovers can apply this strategy,good luck lads
I like Mr Appletons attitude let's see the fear in the other sides eyes like many sports games,contests can be won before a ball is kicked or a punch thrown,Mike Tyson won many fights before he entered the ring,with a good reputation the Rovers can apply this strategy,good luck lads juanbbien
  • Score: 0

9:36pm Tue 19 Feb 13

steve18gls says...

Don't think hull were fearing rovers tonight. Think our boys need a kick up the arse !
Don't think hull were fearing rovers tonight. Think our boys need a kick up the arse ! steve18gls
  • Score: 0

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