Standing in for Allardyce holds no fears for assistant McDonald

Blackburn coach relishes chance to shine tonight in league visit to Fulham
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The Independent Football

Neil McDonald, the Blackburn Rovers assistant manager, admits he would like to take on a full-time managerial position again some time in the future.

McDonald will stand in for Sam Allardyce tonight as Blackburn travel to Fulham in the Premier League. He also oversaw the team's 2-0 win at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday after tests revealed Allardyce – who has complained of chest pains in recent weeks – requires an angioplasty, a procedure which involves inserting widening a narrowed coronary artery.

With the 55-year-old's operation scheduled for Friday, McDonald will also take charge for Saturday's match against Stoke and the former Carlisle manager s relishing his time in charge. "As a coach you always want to be a manager," McDonald said. "I've tasted that at Carlisle and had a successful time there. If it comes again, it comes again, but I'm enjoying these few games where I've been given the chance. I'd definitely like to have another go in the future."

McDonald – who led Carlisle to an eighth-place finish in League One in 2006-07 but was sacked after one match of the following campaign – guided Blackburn to their first away win of the season on Sunday, and hopes the team will build on the result at Craven Cottage. "We have struggled away from home," he said, "but we have played some big teams – Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. We had a little bit of a lesson on how to defend and conceded a fair few goals, but we have worked very hard on the training ground and we got our just rewards on Sunday.

"That has taken the pressure off, knowing we have our first [away league] victory and points behind us. We now have a chance to get some more away from home, and after two victories, one home [against Portsmouth] and one away, it has given the players lots of confidence and we are looking forward to the game."

McDonald said the club were hopeful that Allardyce would return to work next week ahead of the Carling Cup quarter-final against Chelsea. "The procedure is on Friday and they are saying if everything goes according to plan then [he will be back] in the next couple of days," McDonald said.

"So we are hoping he will be back for the Monday before the Chelsea game. He is a strong man. He does everything as he has to and if this week goes according to plan with another result against Fulham, it will take all the stress out and he will come back quick.

"When you are talking about the heart and an operation, going inside your body – it's always a concern but I think he has been reassured that it is routine and hopefully after Friday and a couple of days recovery he will be back to work."

McDonald revealed he had been in close contact with Allardyce over the last few days and said that the win over his old club Bolton had lifted his spirits. "I'm in touch with him on a regular basis and he's very happy with Sunday's performance and result, and I'm sure he'll be looking for exactly the same on Wednesday. I could tell in his voice that he was happy. He didn't watch the game from the start but he did afterwards and he really enjoyed it.

McDonald insists Allardyce was never in any danger of underestimating the levels of stress in his job. "In pre-season he was in London getting himself checked out.He is a person who knows about the stress, he has been in the job for a long time.

"That is why he has picked up on what has happened now, and done so early. If he didn't look after himself, the consequences might have been worse."

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