The Blackburn manager, Steve Kean, feels any nerves his players take into tonight's home game against Wigan Athletic could give them an extra edge in what will be a genuine relegation battle. Blackburn are 19th in the Premier League with two games to play.
There is plenty of youth in their side and Kean knows the enormity of the fixture is likely to play on one or two minds. He is optimistic, though, that it is something that might bring out the best in his team rather than inhibit them, particularly given the way training has gone ahead of the match.
Asked about nerves in the camp, Kean said: "I feel as if it can give a positive edge. Sometimes you can look at the lads and think they are a little bit nervous and there is a negative energy, but they have looked bright and sharp on the training ground."
Blackburn have lost six of their last seven games – their latest outing being a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham a week ago, in which they failed to muster a single shot on goal – but Kean insists his team can beat the drop. They avoided relegation on the final day of last season, running out 3-2 winners over fellow strugglers Wolves, and the Scot is keeping the faith that something similar will happen this time around.
"It is not about concern – it is about reality," he said when asked whether he is worried about his side's predicament. "We find ourselves in a position much like last year when we had to go and beat Wolves on the last day of the season.
"We have lost a lot of players since then – Jermaine Jones, Phil Jones, Brett Emerton, Christopher Samba. There is lots of experience that has left, but we have a good group. It is a young group, but a good group and we want to get back to the type of performances that we know we can deliver – much better than Tottenham, because we were so disappointing with the ball.
"I didn't expect it to come to this, but there has been a big transition in players. We have promoted a lot of the younger ones, maybe a little bit earlier than they would have played, but we have great players for the future and we have to make sure we stay in this league. I am still convinced we can do it."
The winger Martin Olsson could be back in Blackburn's starting XI for the game after spending Rovers' last three matches on the bench because of a niggling groin complaint. Bradley Orr (Achilles) will be assessed ahead of kick-off, while fellow defender Grant Hanley (knee) remains sidelined. Kean has confirmed that the Scottish striker David Goodwillie – who was given a community service order earlier this week for assaulting a man in Glasgow – will be part of the squad.
Blackburn v Wigan
Kick-off Tonight, 8pm (Sky Sports 1). Ref M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear). Odds: Bl'burn 6-4; Draw 5-2; Wigan 7-4.
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