BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer admits he was saddened to lose Tom Cairney to Championship rivals Fulham.

But Bowyer accepts the ‘reality’ of why Rovers owners Venky’s agreed to the shock sale of the fans’ favourite.

He said: “It’s a sad loss to lose Tom.

“He was a fantastic player, a great player for us, and a cracking lad from a really good family.

“We are disappointed he has left us but the offer on the table went to the owners and they accepted that.

“We have to move on now but what it shows you is the environment that we’ve got here and the work that we do here, it’s producing players, and in this day and age we have to take the positives out of that.

“We’re bringing in a player like Tom and the transfer fee that we paid for him and the transfer fee that we sold him for is nowhere near the same. The mark-up is unbelievable from the club. So from that point of view, that’s good business.

“We don’t want to have players who just take money out of the club and have no saleable assets to us.”

Rovers, who are under a Financial Fair Play embargo and are going into their final season of Premier League parachute payments, stand to receive a fee in excess of £3.5m for Cairney.

That represents a significant profit on the £600,000 they paid Hull City for the midfielder’s services 18 months ago.

But asked whether he thought it was a good idea to sell Cairney, who was voted player of the year and won a goal of the season award in his two years at Rovers, Bowyer said: “Selling any of your players is never a good idea, especially if they’re your good ones.

“But we’re aware of the situation that we’re in, especially now with the embargo, but the owners have shown before that it has to be a good bid, and if it’s not a bid that meets their valuation, it just doesn’t happen.

“Unfortunately now Tom’s gone, we’ve got to move on and find the next one and work very hard to bring them in and make them better.

“The reality is, I suppose, is that eventually one of them then will go. We have to face reality.”

Rovers’ top-scorer last season, Rudy Gestede, is wanted by Watford.

But so far the Premier League new boys have failed to meet the price tag placed on the striker’s head by Venky’s.

Gestede returned to training alongside his Rovers team-mates this week and Bowyer said: “From a personal point of view I’d love it if we started the season with him. Like I said, you never want to lose any of your players.

“But, again, the owners are clear that their valuation will have to be met for any players, including Rudy.

“He’s come back, he’s not in bad shape at all, and he’s just getting on with it, as I expected.”

Asked whether he expected Gestede to go, Bowyer said: “In all honesty I hope he doesn’t.

“That’s me but if somebody meets the asking price that’s clearly out of my hands.”