HOPE Akpan is pleased by the impact he is having at Blackburn Rovers – but insists there is more to come.

The midfielder has made an encouraging start to life at Rovers after his summer switch from Championship rivals Reading.


And on Saturday he produced his best performance for Gary Bowyer’s side as they swept aside last season’s beaten play-off semi-finalists Ipswich Town.

Akpan won the penalty from which two-goal hero Jordan Rhodes opened the scoring and he formed an effective partnership with Corry Evans after taking the place of the injured Danny Guthrie.

But the 24-year-old says there is plenty of room for improvement in his game.

Akpan said: “I feel good and I feel fit.

“I like to get about the pitch, with driving runs forward, and I think I am having a good effect on the games.

“So personally, yes, I would say I am happy with my performances so far.

“But I know I can do more, I know I can do better, so I’ll be working hard in training to keep on improving.”

With seven first-team members away on international duty, and with a host of players either sidelined or receiving treatment, Gary Bowyer currently has a small group to work with.

So while part of Akpan wishes Rovers had a match this week in an effort to keep their momentum going, he accepts that two weeks away from the rigour of Championship football will give their injury hit squad chance to recover and reflect.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“I’ve said before that momentum is building a little bit,” said the Nigeria international.

“In previous games we were unlucky and we were not scoring goals, but now the goals are coming and we’re keeping clean sheets, and that can only bode well.

“Has the break come at a good time or bad time? That’s a tough question. I think the lads would be happy if there was a game in midweek or next weekend.

“But what it does do is give us a chance to reflect on what we’ve done well in recent games and make sure we replicate it in training and get ready for MK Dons.

“There’s been a fair few knocks, a couple of lads have had operations, in Lowey (Jason Lowe) and Browny (Chris Brown), so the squad has been stretched.

“But we’ve got a strong squad and the lads who have come in have added to the team.”

Rovers will make the trip to the Dons on Saturday week after a second straight home win stretched their unbeaten run to four matches.

They remain just three points off the bottom three but Akpan says they are looking up and not down.

He said: “The gaffer said, ‘look where Ipswich finished last season’, and if we can push toward that way, toward that end of the league, then we’d be happy.

“Obviously there are a lot of tough games coming up and a lot of other teams we need to play and need to beat but we’re ready for the challenge.

“We didn’t start too well but we always knew that with the players that we’ve got here, the manager, and the spirit and belief that we have, that we could produce good performances like Saturday’s.”

On the impressive 2-0 victory over Ipswich, Akpan added: “The lads were buzzing at half-time, we knew had dominated the game with the ball, and without the ball we were also the better side.

“We had to roll our sleeves up in the second half, and make sure we stayed strong, but I felt we dealt with their threat and could have scored more goals on the counter.”