PLAYER of the year Tom Cairney believes Blackburn Rovers will be ‘a force to be reckoned with’ next season.
Rovers narrowly missed out on the Championship play-offs during the 2013/14 campaign, finishing eighth in the table.
But Cairney says that Gary Bowyer’s youthful squad will have more experience next term and will be stronger challengers for promotion.
Rovers finished the season with 70 points – two more than Leicester required to make the play-offs a season earlier.
Cariney thinks they showed real signs of progress as they finished the season unbeaten in 12 league matches – scoring 31 goals in those games.
“I feel like we’re building an exciting team,” the midfielder said.
“We’re young, we’re attacking and scoring goals, and I think we’ll carry on that next season.
“To go 12 matches in this league is so hard to do because anyone can beat anyone.
“We’re going to be another year older next season and I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with after just missing out this season.”
Cairney joined Rovers from Hull City at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, initially on loan before making the move permanent during the January transfer window.
The 23-year-old netted six goals from midfield, having been utilised in a central role and also out wide at various times during the campaign.
His form earned him the player of the season honour.
“It was a massive achievement for me, a great accolade and I’d like to thank the fans for voting for me – I really appreciate it,” Cairney said.
“I’ve played out of position a lot at times this season so it’s been a learning curve for me.
“To get the award playing out of position and doing a job for the team makes it even better. I definitely feel there is more to come from me.
“I’m enjoying it massively here.”
Meanwhile, Norwich City boss Neil Adams has insisted that the Canaries have not made a bid for Rovers striker Jordan Rhodes.
Norwich were linked with a move for Rhodes earlier this week, after Joe Royle joined the club as a consultant. Former Everton and Manchester City boss Royle managed Rhodes at Ipswich.
“I’ve seen all the rumours,” Adams said. “I think they’ve put two and two together and come up with 25.
“Obviously Joe Royle had him as a young player, and I played with his dad Andy Rhodes. That’s where the links are.
“We’ve made no offer for Jordan Rhodes – fantastic player, don’t get me wrong. Scores goals for fun, guarantees goals. But there’s been no offer.”
Norwich signed forward Lewis Grabban from Bournemouth on Thursday.