TOMMY Spurr has backed former Doncaster Rovers team-mate Chris Brown to provide real competition up front at Blackburn Rovers this season.
Brown has yet to feature in pre-season because of a knee injury but Rovers boss Gary Bowyer hopes the 6ft 3in striker will be ready to make his first appearance for the club in tomorrow night’s friendly at Bury.
The 29-year-old moved to Ewood Park recently on a Bosman free transfer after opting not to sign a new deal at Doncaster following their relegation from the Championship.
Spurr played alongside Brown when the duo helped the Yorkshire side to promotion from League One 12 months earlier.
“Chris is a good mate of mine so when he said he was signing I was buzzing to have one of my mates coming here,” Spurr said.
“He’s fitted in straight away with the lads and he’ll bring a lot to us when he plays.
“He’s a massive presence for us and a different way for us to play.
“He’ll hold the ball up and obviously be an aerial threat, but he’s good with his feet as well.
“He will score goals when people can cross it like Craig Conway, Ben Marshall and Chris Taylor. It’s good to have those people in your team.
“There are two players for every position here and that’s massively healthy for training through the week when you’re trying to fight for your shirt on a Saturday.”
The form of Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede last season was such that only four sides in the Championship scored more goals than Rovers’ total of 70 in 46 games.
Defensively Rovers also picked up 15 clean sheets – the seventh highest tally in the division – but there were some games where lapses at the back ultimately proved costly in their chase for a play-off place.
Perhaps most significant was a 3-3 draw at Sheffield Wednesday late in the campaign, when Rovers had led 3-1.
But Bowyer’s side finished the season unbeaten in 12 games and left back Spurr believes they can continue to get it right at both ends of the pitch this season – starting at home to Cardiff City on August 8.
Rovers have a relatively settled back four and goalkeeper, with right back Alex Baptiste potentially the only change to the regular line-up in the latter stages of the 2013/14 campaign.
“When you have a settled back four you get those relationships and know where each other are going to be,” Spurr said.
“But we don’t know what the team is going to be, we’re all fighting for places.
“I think we kept quite a lot of clean sheets last season and obviously the game that let us down was where we conceded a few goals in one game, but we weren’t a team who conceded every week.
“We said last year about consistency and we got that towards the end of the season, obviously a little bit too late but this year we’re starting afresh. Hopefully we can start right from Cardiff and go all the way through.
“When you’ve got the strikers we have, the wide players and the creative midfield players we’ve got, you’re always going to score goals.
“There’s no worry in my mind that we will cause a lot of problems for teams this year.”
Spurr featured for 45 minutes in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Bradford City in his first appearance of pre-season after a troublesome groin problem.
“I could have played a bit longer on Saturday but it was just because it was my first outing that I didn’t,” he said.
“I was just happy to get through it and feel good.
“It’s been a frustrating pre-season, picking up a groin strain the day before we actually started when I went in and did a little bit of training on my own, I struck a ball and felt it.
“But I’m lucky to be quite naturally fit anyway so I’m not going to be too far behind in terms of fitness.
“It’s just the game time and on Wednesday hopefully I can play a bit longer.”
Leeds United have become the latest club to be linked with an interest in Manchester United defender Michael Keane, who Rovers are eager to bring back to the club for a second loan spell. Cardiff are also reported to be monitoring developments.