Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, has called on his side to be more ruthless in front of goal as they continue their fight against the drop with a trip to Fulham tonight. Rovers have lost just twice in the last 10 League games but remain in the relegation zone after three wins in that sequence and, perhaps more tellingly, three goalless draws.
With nobody else playing in the Premier League in midweek, the game in hand gives Rovers a golden opportunity to move out of the bottom three. But Allardyce knows his players can no longer afford to spurn the chances that come their way – whether they fall to a striker or not.
"There's good character, there's good spirit, but they've just got to get that end product that little bit better and be a little more ruthless in front of goal," Allardyce said. "We've been working extremely hard on the defensive side so as not to be easy to score against and in the main that has been very good. But it's not just about the front men scoring, it's about whoever gets the opportunity, has that golden chance to score, needs to make sure that they do.
"Up to now we've been very close in terms of our overall play of just playing our way out of it, but we miss that end product. We weren't conceding goals any more but we couldn't find the one goal which was going to get us the all-important three points, so we ended up drawing five and winning three instead of winning at least five and only drawing three." Allardyce feels Roy Hodgson's side may be there for the taking after a bad week at Craven Cottage in which they were beaten at the death by Hull and hammered in the FA Cup by Manchester United.
"This is our game in hand, if we come away with a point it takes us out of the bottom three," he said. "The win would obviously be great because it stretches that points difference that little bit farther and we'd maximise that game in hand. But if we can't win it, make sure we don't lose it.
"You have to look at recent form and results and say they have had a little blip. We could be playing them at a good time, mentally they might be a little drained because of their last two games.
"Hopefully it has left some physical and mental fatigue which we may be able to take advantage of on Wednesday night. But the last thing Roy and his players will want is to lose three home games on the trot."
The midfielder Keith Andrews, who scored the winner in the team's trip to Hull 10 days ago, is under no illusions as to the importance of the fixture. He said: "As there's no other games we know its a massive chance for us to get out of the bottom three; there's no ifs, buts or maybes about it.
"We've had a little taste of being out of it over the last couple of weeks but due to results elsewhere we've found ourselves back in there. But we can only really concentrate on ourselves and if we can win this game it will be a massive plus.
"If we can remain resolute at the back and defend really well, with the players we have we can always score goals. In the main we haven't really been taking the chances we've been getting, so hopefully we can start taking them."
Allardyce will assess the fitness of goalkeepers Paul Robinson and Jason Brown prior to tonight's trip to Fulham. Robinson missed the 0-0 draw against Everton with a shoulder problem while Brown picked up a groin injury in the game at Ewood Park.
Roque Santa Cruz, with a knee problem, is a major doubt while David Dunn and Vincent Grella are both ruled out, but Morten Gamst Pedersen returns from his suspension.
Fulham could name an unchanged side. Despite a heavy fixture pile-up in recent weeks, they have no serious injury concerns, although Chris Baird is still battling a minor leg problem. Giles Barnes is continuing to build match fitness in the reserves but may not be ready for action against Rovers.Reuse content