BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has issued a rallying cry to his players to galvanise them for their final push for the play-offs.
Bowyer has been pleased by the progress Rovers have made this season.
Unlike this time last year they are in no danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap and, going into the last third of the campaign, they have given themselves a fighting chance of finishing in the top six.
But Bowyer, who has completely overhauled the Rovers squad in his nine months in permanent charge, insists this is not the time ‘to pat ourselves on the back’.
Indeed the message he has been delivering this week in training has been: ‘We are not finished yet’.
“I’ve said all along it’s been about stabilising the club and trying to develop the club and I feel we are making good progress on that,” said Bowyer, whose 10th-placed team return to action next Saturday with a clash at sixth-placed Reading.
“That said I’ve said on quite a few occasions that some of our performances have warranted more points than what we’ve got.
“Whether that be through individual errors, failure to score when dominating games or the odd time when we’ve been caught out by some decisions that have gone against us.
“But we’re not looking to pat ourselves on the back for what we have done, we’re looking to finish as strong as we possibly can.
“That has been the message to the players – we are not finished, we are nowhere near finished.
“Now we’ve got the business end to really concentrate on.”
Rovers sit four points behind Reading with 43 points from 30 games.
Last season Leicester secured sixth spot with 68 points.
To match that tally Rovers would require a slight increase in the average amount of points they have taken in the first two thirds of the campaign in their final 16 games.
Leicester’s return of 68 points in 2012-13, however, was the fewest needed to qualify for the play-offs in the Championship’s 10-year history with the average needed to finish six over the past nine seasons being 73.
Bowyer, however, prefers to take it one match at a time.
“We’re nearly at that stage when people start telling you exactly where you are and what position you’re in and how many points you need – you can’t escape it,” said Bowyer, who has been impressed by the resilience Rovers have shown during the four-game unbeaten run they are currently enjoying.
“But you’ve just got to maintain the focus on the things that we can control – and that is our performances on the pitch.
“We have to take it game by game. You wouldn’t have been able to predict how many points you needed last season to stay up or how many you needed to get into the play-offs because of the craziness of the division.
“It’s a brilliant division because there are no guarantees and everybody is either fighting to stay in it or fighting to get in the promised land of the Premiership.
“It just adds to the excitement and gives fans something to look forward to until the end of the season.”