MICHAEL Appleton has called for a big reaction from his Blackburn Rovers side on Saturday after admitting he will learn more about his squad in the next few days.
Rovers’ six-match unbeaten streak was brought to an abrupt halt in Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Hull City, leaving them losing ground in their late chase for a Championship play-off spot.
Leeds United are the visitors to Ewood Park on Saturday, followed by a tough trip to Leicester, as Appleton assesses how his players react to disappointment.
He said: “It is easy when you are winning and everything is going your way. You learn more about yourself, the players, the staff and even your fans when you have a defeat and things don’t go right.
“Ultimately we were second best against Hull and that is why we lost the game. The onus is on us to go against Leeds on Saturday and go right at them. It is important we bounce back from that disappointment and I'm sure the players will be trying to do that.
“It is a good game to bounce back in against a Leeds side who are always well travelled in terms of support, so I’m sure the atmosphere will be good. Hopefully we can be on the right end of a result.
“These midweek games you do get strange results and I think that will continue. You have to be at your highest concentration to stop that happening.
“Hull over the period of the season from a consistency point of view have been very, very good. They have won a lot of tight games and that is why they are where they are.”
Eyebrows were raised at Appleton playing Manchester City loanee Karim Rekik out of position on the left wing, but the Rovers boss insists he felt the Dutchman did well.
He said: “We knew they would get a lot of crosses into the box and that is why we shaped up as we did with Williamson one said and Karim the other.
“Karim played a little higher up the pitch than he is normally used to. I thought for the first half he did it ever so well, he stopped the supply to Elmohamady. Circumstances were why we brought him off.
“We nullified that as best as we possibly could for the first 45 minutes but the first goal changed the game.
“We did not deal with the disappointment of conceding the first goal. We should have stuck in there, made the game harder than it was after that.
“You can nit pick and we will but ultimately if you allow balls into your box as we did for the last half an hour, then you are going to concede at some point.
“We got done at the far stick and that is really disappointing because we spent an hour on Monday dealing with balls going to the far stick because we knew that was what their strength was.
“There are a lot of games, there will be a few ups and downs between now and the end of the season.”