Appleton: 'Ewood can play in big role for Blackburn Rovers in FA Cup clash' (From This Is Lancashire)
Appleton: 'Ewood can play in big role for Blackburn Rovers in FA Cup clash'
MICHAEL Appleton wants Blackburn Rovers fans to give the footballing world a glimpse of the Ewood Park future by recreating Sunday’s ‘Lion’s Den’ atmosphere this evening.
The Rovers boss said when he arrived as manager in January he wanted to bring the “feelgood factor” back to the club and believes this evening’s FA Cup quarter final tie is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Millwall stand between Rovers and a Wembley semi final against Wigan Athletic and Appleton believes the Ewood faithful can play a huge part in helping his side secure a place at the home of English football.
He said: “We hope the fans get behind us and cheer every throw, every tackle, every corner, just like it was on Sunday and hopefully that will give us an edge to see us over the line.
“I hope as many as fans come through the gate as possible. We want to recreate the atmosphere that Millwall made on Sunday.
“However long it takes, I said I wanted to bring the feelgood factor back to the football club.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day and it does take time.
“But hopefully the atmosphere might be an indication of what we want in the future.”
Rovers have been handed the incentive of missing the big guns in a potential semi final, although Premier League Wigan would still start as favourites, but Appleton insists all focus is on tonight’s tie.
He said: “If the lads can use the draw as a motivation then that is something I won’t be stopping them from doing. But what I don’t want them to do is take the eye of the ball.
“The objective is to beat Millwall, forget about Wigan. This is a quarter final. A final against Manchester United would be what dreams are made of but I’m sure Chelsea, Millwall, Wigan and Manchester City will have something to say about that.
“It will be a different game than it was on Sunday. Looking back at the stats it didn’t surprise me it was the lowest percentage of passes. I knew we had to stand up and be strong.
“Our pitch is a bigger pitch. The onus is on us, we are the home side so we have to take the game to Millwall which we will do.”
Rovers have a lengthy injury list ahead of Millwall’s visit, with Adam Henley and Bradley Orr joining the likes of Colin Kazim-Richards, Lee Williamson and Dickson Etuhu on the sidelines.
But, despite Dave Jones, DJ Campbell and Cameron Stewart also being cup tied, Appleton admits the absentees will not be used as any excuse.
He said: “It is not great. Obviously even before Sunday people were aware of the injury problems we had but I am so conscious not to talk about it and make it an excuse.
“There is going to be an opportunity for 11 players to get themselves into the semi final of a cup and an opportunity to play at Wembley.
“David Bentley has had a scan on his knee and we are still waiting for the all clear for him. Nothing significant has come back from the scan but there is a bit of swelling in the knee.
“We have some reasonably good news regarding Martin Olsson. He is going to train, he has not played for a few weeks but is quite a fit lad anyway. So that gives me a little bit of an option.
“Sometimes these things drive players and teams on. I am sure Millwall have their own problems, it is part and parcel of the game. I am sure the lads are ready for it and I think they feel they earned the right to have another crack at it.
“We had to deal with a lot of things at the Den, the crowd were magnificent on the day and I just hope that our fans turn up in their thousands and almost recreate the atmosphere we had to walk into at the Den and make sure the Millwall players are as uncomfortable as we were.”