MICHAEL Appleton has urged his Blackburn Rovers side to ‘keep knocking on the play-off door’ but admits a lot of the damage had been done before the start of his Ewood regime.
Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Leeds leaves Rovers still seven points adrift of the Championship top six with 13 games remaining, as boss Appleton bids to manage expectations.
Rovers’ cause has not been helped by further injury set backs, with Martin Olsson and Colin Kazim-Richards the latest to be facing spells on the sidelines.
Having lost Dickson Etuhu and Lee Williamson for at least a month last week, Olsson is now facing four weeks out of action after suffering an eye injury in training on Friday.
Kazim-Richards will have an ankle scan today after limping out of the second half on Saturday, but is certain to miss tomorrow’s tough trip to high-flying Leicester.
Appleton said: “We haven’t really been able to put ourselves in a position to really commit to doing it (play-offs) anyway.
“When we walked into the club, nobody had any thoughts of getting into the play-offs. And what happened, as usually does in this division, you win two or three games on the bounce and all of a sudden you are promotion hopefuls.
“I think a lot of the damage was done before we arrived but saying that there are 13 games to go and the message is keep knocking on the door and hopefully someone will slip up.
“From an expectation point of view when I first came here we were complete no hopers in terms of play offs.
“You only have to play four games and there might be a side eight points above you and you go above them. This table will change again on Tuesday night.
“It will keep doing that every week. There is no consistency to the table, especially that middle tier.
“Regarding the play-offs we need to put that to the back of our minds a little bit for now and concentrate on each game as it comes.”
Appleton will be seeking to move in the loan market this week as he looks for two new signings to cover for his increasingly depleted squad.
He said: “You can only name five loans on your sheet and you have to bear that in mind. We had four on the pitch as it was, we have to be careful what we do and how we do it.
“We did not expect to have injuries so close to each other and they don't look as though they are going to be coming back any time soon.
“Martin took a ball to the face and a bleeding to the eye. We have to shut him down and do absolutely nothing with him.
“We are in a situation where Leon Best will play again Monday and maybe he will involved Saturday. Josh King is close to our thoughts but is at least two weeks away. There has to be one if not two new faces come in.
“You can go two ways. That is why I am delighted with the team, I am not sure they would have done that a few weeks ago. I will take a lack of quality if they really have a go.”