TOMMY Spurr has welcomed the return of Tom Cairney to the battle-weary Blackburn Rovers squad, hailing the midfielder as the ‘man who makes us tick’.
After six matches on the sidelines with an ankle injury the talented 23-year-old was named among the Rovers substitutes for Saturday’s incident-packed 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Millwall.
Captain Grant Hanley’s controversial sending off prevented Cairney from making it off the bench but he is set to play a part in tomorrow’s visit of Brighton & Hove Albion to Ewood Park – possibly from the start.
And left-back Spurr says that will be a big boost.
“When he first came into the club you could see straight away how good he was,” said the 26-year-old, who is Cairney’s room-mate on away trips.
“He makes us tick, keeps the ball and creates chances with his through balls, so to have a player of his quality back is only a positive for us.
“He’s looking well now that he’s had a couple of weeks training under his belt.”
Ten-man Rovers showed resilience to twice battle back from losing positions on Saturday , securing a draw with an injury-time equaliser for the second game running after they did the same in midweek at Watford.
Spurr, whose long throw led to Josh King’s last-gasp leveller against the Lions, said: “It probably wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but I don’t think the surface helped either team, especially us as the formation we started with was made for us to out-football them, break them down and win the game.
“The pitch didn’t allow us to do that and then the sending off didn’t help but again it shows our character and resilience that we came back from that, equalised, got another penalty given against us which on another day wouldn’t get given, reacted again and got an equaliser.”
The Rovers players were out on their feet at the end of the match and Spurr admits a season in which the club has been rocked by injuries is beginning to take its toll.
But with the a play-off place still a slim possibility – Rovers remain eight points behind sixth place going into tomorrow’s game in hand against Brighton – the ever-present defender says there will be no slacking.
“It’s coming to that stage of the season when people are getting a little bit tired,” said Spurr who, as the only Rovers player to start every Championship match this season, is feeling it more than most.
“We’ve put a lot of work into this season and when you play three games in a week like this week, and with the amount of travelling we’ve done, it’s going to take it out of you.
“Obviously going down to 10 men doesn’t help but it just shows how hard the lads are working that they are pushing themselves through that to try and get the job done.”
Rudy Gestede missed Saturday’s match with a groin problem but Rovers boss Gary Bowyer said he is hopeful the striker will be fit for tomorrow’s Seagulls clash.