Allardyce desperate for window to shut

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The Independent Football

Blackburn Rovers are steeling themselves to resist any last-ditch attempt by Manchester City to land Roque Santa Cruz before the transfer window closes.

Rovers have identified the striker as crucial to their campaign to stay in the Premier League and manager Sam Allardyce admits he cannot wait for the window to shut. Blackburn have already knocked back one £15m bid and although City have not returned with an improved offer, their failure to land Kaka has turned the spotlight back onto Santa Cruz.

However, Blackburn's own position has hardened after Allardyce told club chairman John Williams he has been unable to identify a ready-made replacement for the Paraguay star.

Allardyce, whose team face his old club Bolton today, admitted there was still time for City to come back with another mega offer.

He said: "I wish the transfer window was shut, bolted, locked and the keys thrown away. But there's still a few days to go and I think there is a lot more panic around the football world, it's a now-or-never situation in terms of players coming in.

"I'm counting the days down in the hope that there is not a phone call saying one of my players may have to leave because the price you are getting is far too great to turn down. We will resist selling anyone if we can. It has been very quiet I'm glad to say, but that's not to say it won't resurrect itself. We don't have to sell anybody. "

Allardyce has transformed Blackburn as a defensive unit and with five clean sheets in their last six games the club have climbed out of the bottom three. A derby against Bolton, the club where he made his name, will provide another test at Ewood Park tonight.

There will also be the chance of some personal satisfaction in achieving victory after Allardyce admitted relations with Phil Gartside are now "distant" after the Bolton chairman made some unflattering remarks when he left for Newcastle in 2007. Allardyce was booed by some Bolton fans when he returned with the Magpies last season, but he still lives in the town and said local people are unfailingly friendly towards him.

"I have never had a word against me when people come up to me in the street," Allardyce added. "That [booing] was just a small minority stirred up by some people behind the scenes."

Allardyce has a full squad to choose from with strikers Jason Roberts and Matt Derbyshire, midfielder David Dunn and defender Andre Ooijer available again after missing the FA Cup tie against Sunderland.