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Olsson: Hard work paying off for Blackburn Rovers
MARTIN Olsson believes Michael Appleton is turning Blackburn Rovers into a “90-minute team” after admitting their work-load has increased since his appointment.
For much of the season so far, Rovers have been plagued by conceding late goals but Olsson insists work is being done to remedy that fault.
The Swede has been part of a defence that has kept three straight clean sheets as Rovers climbed to eighth in the Championship and just four points off the play-offs.
And, ahead of this evening’s trip to fellow promotion hopefuls Brighton, Olsson admits new boss Appleton is having a positive effect.
He said: “Things have changed a lot. It is good now here. We have been working hard in training.
“The gaffer has been working us very hard in training, with lots of running and I think it is showing in games.
“We don’t get tired after 60/70 minutes, we just keep going and that is obviously showing in the way we are playing.”
Tonight’s trip to Brighton is the start of a daunting looking run of fixtures, which include three trips to promotion chasing rivals in the next four league games.
Add to that an FA Cup fifth round tie at Arsenal and Rovers will know things won’t get any easier in the next few weeks.
Olsson said: “In this league there are no easy games. We are all experienced enough and professional enough to know that. It does not matter who we play we have to focus on our jobs.
“We have to think about the way we play and not other teams. Every team we play now is going to be tough, it doesn’t matter where they are in the league.
“Of course it could be good if we are playing teams above us because those are the points we need to pick up to catch up.
“Every game we play between now and the end of the season we have to think about winning. That has to be our task.
“The first half wasn’t the best on Saturday but we just stayed focused and we finished the task and got three points.
“We look much harder to beat now, as a team we are more compact and working well together.
“We have always had it in the back of our minds that we could do it but it was a tough time, we lost a few games.
“Right now we are going forward and winning games and we have to keep keeping going forward. The mood now is very good.”
Olsson also had words of praise for striker Jordan Rhodes, who scored his in seventh consecutive league game on Saturday to equal a club record.
And, as Rhodes looks to set the record in his own right this evening, Olsson admits the striker’s efforts have raised the stakes around Ewood.
He said: “It looked like he is claiming it, I didn’t see it. He has been very good for us, when it is hard he helps us out by getting a goal or two.
“His goals put the pressure on us as defenders and midfielders because when he scores it makes us even more determined not to let the team down by conceding.
“He is always in the right place at the right time. I don’t know if it is luck but he is always there. He has proven he can score any goal.”
Meanwhile, when asked about West Ham’s recent efforts to sign him in the transfer window, Olsson said: “I am, here right now so I’m not thinking about that at all.
“There was a lot of speculation but I am rovers players and just focusing on getting up to the Premier League.”
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