ANTHONY Stokes will pull on a Blackburn Rovers shirt for the first time today insisting the minimum target for this season must be a top-half finish – with the possibility of a play-off push.

Rovers finished a disappointing 15th in the 2015-16 Championship campaign but hopes are high within the squad that they can improve on that this around.

And Stokes, who is set to play some part of this afternoon’s pre-season friendly opener against SV Ried in Ried im Innkreis, Austria (5pm BST), believes they should not rule out a top-six tilt.

“You look at the facilities, the training ground, the stadium, they are second to none. This is a Premier League club,” said the striker, who became new Rovers boss Owen Coyle’s first signing last month when he signed a three-year contract after leaving Celtic.

“We have to be looking this year to really push on, at least get in the top half of the table and then start looking toward the top six.

“We need to be positive and we need to have that sort of belief in the team.

“If we all work hard enough, and the gaffer gets a few new players in, and we have a good strong squad, and a good bond within the squad, then we’ll have every chance this year.”

Stokes and fellow summer signing Danny Graham will be tasked with scoring the goals that Rovers lacked last season.

Only five teams netted fewer times in the Championship.

Stokes has hit 131 goals in 345 career appearances including two in Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup final win over Rangers in May.

But Coyle reckons the 27-year-old, who ended last season on loan at the Edinburgh club from Celtic, has more to his game than goals alone.

He said: “You only have to look at his stats to see that he is a natural goalscorer.

“But he is more than that. He’s clever, he can play around the corner, he can take people on in one-on-one situations in the box, as he did in the cup final to score a very good first goal, and equally he popped up with a header in amongst 6ft 4in, 6ft 5in defenders.

“He’s decent in the air, so when you’re thinking about his all-round abilities, it’s conducive to working very hard and complementing a good Blackburn Rovers in the team.”

Stokes has played out wide in the past and, while he is set to start in his favoured position for Rovers, he is happy to operate Coyle wherever wants him to.

“I like to play up front but I’d like to think I’m creative with other players,” said the nine-capped Republic of Ireland international.

“I prefer to play in a two and get players close around me. I think that’s where I’m at my best but it comes down to wherever the gaffer wants me to play. It’s as simple as that.

“I’ll just myself fit and ready and leave the rest up to him.”

Rovers will fly back to England tomorrow and return to Brockhall early next week to prepare for the three-team tournament at Morecambe a week today which will also feature Bury.