SHANE Duffy and Ben Marshall have rejected Blackburn Rovers’ initial contract offers – as boss Owen Coyle pushes to make the first paid-for signing of his Ewood Park reign.

Rovers last week put new and improved deals to centre-back Duffy and winger Marshall.


But the star duo, who are in the final year of their current contracts, turned them down.

Coyle has now gone back to Rovers owners Venky’s as negotiations continue.

But he has also made it clear that Duffy and Marshall, who were the subject of failed bids from rival Championship clubs earlier in the summer, must improve their form like the rest of their team-mates.

“I’ve spoken to both lads extensively,” said Coyle, whose side head to Cardiff City tonight looking to record their first Championship win of the season.

“They are both good lads. Have they played to the maximum in the games? No. But I can certainly understand some of the off-the-field stuff that can affect them.

“You can imagine everybody has got something to say to them away from the field in respect of what they should do and what they shouldn’t be doing.

“We made an offer to them both last week, which was an improved offer on their existing contracts, and with their representatives, they felt that wasn’t enough to get that done, which is fine.

“I’ve got back to the owners to see if we can move that on again. Within that there will be speculation and everything that goes with it.

“But as I said to both lads, the only thing they can affect is their play on the field. So whatever the outside circumstances are, whether it’s their representative or family saying this or that, they’ve got to make sure they are the best they are on the field.

“Because if you don’t perform well on the field, who’s going to want to come and buy you anyway?

“It’s always a difficult one when players are coming into the last year of their contracts. It’s something I inherited. You’ve got to make the best of that situation.

“Both are good lads and I don’t have one problem with them.

“But what I have said to them, and it’s the same as the rest of the group, is that we need to perform better with the level of ability and quality they both have.

“They’re both very valuable players. There was interest in both players a couple of weeks back, which tells you the level of players they are, but for us, when everybody is here, we want to make sure they’re performing at their best for Blackburn Rovers.

“That’s the focus and I think both lads are looking to rectify that and show the best of their ability.”

Rovers’ already small squad has been stretched by injuries to centre-back Elliott Ward, full-back Adam Henley, midfielder Corry Evans and winger Elliott Bennett.

Coyle has been targeting a young left-back on loan from a Premier League club and it is understood that he has lodged bids for Lens centre-back Abdoul Ba who is believed to be keen to make the move to Ewood.

“I’ve certainly put my case forward because I think the squad needs help,” said Coyle, whose summer signings have comprised four free transfers and three loans.

“Some of those targets require a bit of cash. There’s no getting away from that.

“We want to try and add to the squad we’ve got by bringing in one or two players in with ability and with scope to develop, get even better and be real assets to the club.

“And of course those don’t come for nothing. All I can do is keep presenting that plan and keep presenting the players I think can help us and take it from there.”