MICHAEL Appleton will step up his search for reinforcements in the loan market after new signing Lee Williamson was ruled out for a minimum of six weeks with an ankle injury.

The midfielder, who only arrived at the club earlier this month as a free agent, was stretchered off on his Rovers league debut at Hull on Tuesday night, with scan results yesterday showing an ankle ligament tear.

The injury is likely to sideline the former Watford, Portsmouth and Sheffield United midfielder for at least six weeks, leaving Appleton even more likely to strengthen in the next few weeks.

The Rovers boss had already indicated he was bidding to bring a left winger in on loan before the close of the window next month but he is expected to now look to bolster in the centre of midfield as well.

The versatile Williamson, 30, was brought in with the potential to play in central midfield, right midfield and either full back position, and his absence will be a blow to Rovers’ promotion hopes.

Williamson impressed on his debut with a tough tackling display in Saturday’s shock FA Cup win at Arsenal in the heart of midfield, before starting on the right side in the defeat at Hull on Tuesday.

Dickson Etuhu’s imminent return from injury will soften the blow for Appleton, with Adam Henley and Leon Best also close to first team contention again.

Meanwhile Karim Rekik, on loan from Manchester City, is relishing his opportunity at Rovers having been handed his debut in Tuesday’s night win.

The Dutchman is usually either a centre back or a left back, despite playing in a surprise left wing slot at the KC Stadium, and is looking forward to playing a part in Rovers’ promotion charge.

He said: “I am not scared of competition for places.

“I just hope that we can win as many games as we can. It is good for me to be here. As a young player you need to play every week to make yourself a better player.

“There is a lot of competition for places, it is good for the team.

“There are a lot of games, we’ve got a chance of the play-offs and I hope we can make it. The belief is definitely here in the changing room.

“I was on loan last year at Portsmouth so I worked with the manager before.

“I had a good time there, I liked the manager, he’s very honest with you face to face, he says what he wants to and I think that is good for a young player as well.”

* Rovers have been given an initial allocation of 1,459 tickets for their FA Cup quarter final at Millwall on Sunday, March 10.

A further allocation will be available if required for the 2pm kick-off and tickets go on sale to season ticket holders today.

Any remaining tickets will go on open sale on Tuesday, with seats costing £20 for adults, £11 for over 60s and £10 for under 16s.