Dunn and Duff have the class to rescue Rovers

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The Independent Online

If Blackburn avoid relegation this season, it will be due in no small measure to Damien Duff and David Dunn.

Graeme Souness had referred to Tuesday's game with Aston Villa as D-Day, though DD-day would have been more accurate as the young midfielders rose to the occasion.

Duff, the Republic of Ireland left-winger blessed with extravagant skills and pace and known at Ewood Park as "Duffer", is a particular threat on the flanks, and deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Robert Pires, Ryan Giggs and Harry Kewell.

Dunn, meanwhile, favours the left himself but Souness is in the process of converting the 22-year-old England hopeful into a player comfortable in any position across midfield. He played on the right against Villa and scored a screamer of a goal to set Rovers on their way to a 3-0 victory sealed late on by Duff and Andy Cole.

Souness praised both players, saying: "Dunny is always going on about not being able to play on the right of midfield but I think he showed a lot of people – including himself – that he can.

"As for Duffer, in the first half he caused them immense problems, then in the second looked as though he had been shot, he was so tired. But when it looks as though he is down and out, he finds a burst of energy from somewhere."

With other results going their way, Blackburn are now within a point of Bolton, Ipswich and Everton, and Duff, 23, believes the Worthington Cup final victory over Tottenham has had a knock-on effect for Rovers.

"This was a huge win for us and it was an added bonus that both Derby and Bolton lost as well," said Duff. "I think we need five more wins to stay up but we don't want to leave things late, we need to get it sewn up before the end of the season.

"We've still got to play some of the lower teams. We've got Ipswich next week, Leicester away and Everton away. So there's a lot of six-pointers coming up and anything can happen from here.

"We've had a dodgy three or four months and I think we are in a false position in the league – we should be a lot higher than we are," Duff said. "But what happened in Cardiff has given the whole town, the players and the club, a massive boost so, hopefully, we can carry that on now."

It was only Blackburn's second win in nine Premiership games, and their first in the league since January 12. Souness said he is only concerned by his side's results.

"Believe it or not, I didn't ask about the other results. I believe our destiny is in our own hands. Relegation has never entered my head. I am not too bothered about looking at other results. It is what we do that counts.

"I believe we have got players here who will show the character to make sure we are in the Premier League next year. The reason we are down there is because we have not won enough games. We have made mistakes, elementary at times, defensively. We have not punished teams."

The Villa manager, Graham Taylor, believes Rovers should escape relegation, but warned that they still have a vulnerable defence. He said: "They have got some very good attacking players but I think if you can get at them you can get some joy."

Taylor added: "We lost to the better side. They were quicker and sharper on to the ball – I have no grumbles with the result."

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