MICHAEL Appleton has hailed an “almost perfect” away day on Saturday as his first win as Blackburn Rovers manager leaves the club just two games away from Wembley.

Goals from Colin Kazim-Richards, Scott Dann and Jordan Rhodes inspired a 3-0 victory at Derby County and set up a last 16 meeting at Arsenal. Appleton, right, is now hoping to capture ‘three or four’ new signings before the close of the transfer window on Thursday – while insisting he is under no pressure to sell anyone.

Manchester City defender Karim Rekik is understood to be of several on his wish-list, while a winger with pace has grown in terms of priorities after Josh King suffered a relapse to his hamstring injury. Appleton is also expecting late interest for a number of his key players, with Scott Dann and Martin Olsson understood to be in demand, but the Rovers boss is confident he will keep his squad together.

He said: “Hopefully it is going to be a good four or five days for us and we can get some new faces in and make sure there is plenty of competition.

“I think Josh’s injury does leave us needing another. People will be expecting that, hopefully it is a fruitful four days for us and we can make sure we get a really competitive squad together. I am sure there will be interest (in his squad) but we are at a point where we want to strengthen the quality of the squad and if players do leave it will be players that myself and the staff are quite happy to let out.”

After an uneventful first half at Pride Park, Kazim-Richards’ 43rd minute opener set up a dominant second half display for the visitors.

“From an away performance point of view it is up there as almost being perfect,” Appleton said.

“The first 20 to 25 minutes were difficult for no other reason than the exploits the players showed on Tuesday night and once we got through that we really looked a threat.

“I don’t think our goal was under threat at any point. We grew stronger in the game and some of our experienced players really came to the fore.

“Jake Kean has had nothing to do at all and that is pleasing. There was a spell when we were 1-0 up when we got a little bit sloppy, but I said to the players you can’t dominate a game for 90 minutes. Everyone will have a spell and sometimes you have to enjoy defending.

“You have to give respect to the opposition and know they will have a spell and you have to enjoy defending, heading, blocking and we did that for four or five minutes and then got back into it.”