Hughes takes heart from Ferguson praise for Blackburn's unbeaten run

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The Independent Football

The Blackburn Rovers manager, Mark Hughes, has been heartened by remarks made by his former mentor Sir Alex Ferguson as he attempts to take the club to a higher level. Hughes is hoping his side can extend their unbeaten run to 13 games, stretching back to last season when they entertain MyPa in the Uefa Cup tonight.

Rovers have not been defeated since losing narrowly to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in April.

Hughes took a number of positives from that performance – and so apparently did the Manchester United manager. "Sir Alex mentioned us as a team that could shake up the top four," said the Blackburn manager, who used to play under Ferguson at United.

"I think what he meant was that we had the capacity to take points off those teams, rather than make the top four. While that would be something, his comments and others like them now show us in a good light.

"I like to think we have improved vastly in our last three games as well and are at a great level," Hughes added. "We have hit the ground running and that is important. We are ahead of where we expected to be. I believe we are a good team that can cause others problems, but it is important to maintain our good start."

Blackburn are aiming to improve on their 1-0 victory against the Finnish side going into tonight's second leg at Ewood Park, thereby securing a place in the first round proper, alongside Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Bolton Wanderers.

Rovers enjoyed a good campaign last season eventually going out to Bayer Leverkusen in the last 32. Hughes said: "It is a competition we want to do well in. We want to keep on progressing.

"I have some exceptionally good players and am confident in the squad. But we cannot afford to be complacent against MyPa. We have to be really professional. There is only one goal in it and they could equalise from a free-kick or a set play. It is our intention to pick them off at home and maintain that winning situation."

Hughes has been delighted at the way David Dunn is performing in his second spell with the club. The midfielder returned in January from Birmingham and turned in another impressive display in the draw against Everton on Saturday.

Hughes said: "I have given Dunny a bit of freedom to express himself and he has been excellent. He is fit and well and I am very pleased for him. I am sure there is still a lot more to come, though. Overall, I enjoyed our first-half display at Everton as they were all at sea in that spell."

Ryan Nelsen is available again after suspension and could replace Andre Ooijer in central defence.

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