Steve Kean concedes Junior Hoilett likely to depart Blackburn

 

Blackburn manager Steve Kean admits the current form of Junior Hoilett is likely to attract more interested clubs but he has not given up hope of keeping the forward at Ewood Park.

The 21-year-old put in another man-of-the-match performance with the opening goal in the 2-0 win at home to Sunderland last night which lifted Rovers six points clear of relegation.

Hoilett's contract expires at the end of the season and despite attempts earlier this season to persuade him to renew it seems likely he will depart in the summer.

A number of clubs have been tracking his progress for 12 months and Kean knows the Canadian's current form, he scored both goals in a crucial victory at Wolves in their previous match, is only going to attract more sides.

"I don't think we can prevent that," said the Scot.

"If someone is out of contract, with the way he is playing, week on week there will be more teams.

"We hope we can get ourselves to a position of safety and make him an offer.

"We want him to stay here. He is playing out his skin. If he goes to another club will he play week in week out? I don't know."

Hoilett is revelling in a role behind striker Ayegbeni Yakubu, who scored a late second to wrap up first back-to-back Barclays Premier League victories for 16 months.

Kean believes that partnership up front could be Rovers route to survival.

"I think he is excited about playing that position," added the manager.

"He likes playing wide, especially on the left when he can cut in on his right foot.

"But when he is playing just off the front he has got good feet, good movement and can provide service for Yak and score himself.

"Yakubu and Hoilett are causing all sorts of problems for centre-backs.

"I think it will be hard not to play that partnership because they are scoring goals and putting each other in."

Kean, who has endured a tough season in the face of protests against his reign and that of India-based owners Venky's, believes a number of his young squad have finally settled in top-flight football and that has helped results improve.

He also praised fans for their support as he thinks that has made a huge difference to his players.

"I think you are seeing some of these young players starting to mature and gain confidence when the fans give them support," Kean said.

"That is them just growing up so I am delighted for the fans and the younger players.

"The senior players never questioned they were giving their all and they are now true leaders on the pitch for the young guys.

"There is a lack of fear but that comes from them being good players.

"If you are not confident in your own ability you might have a wobble.

"We only had two players on the pitch (against Sunderland) in their 30s.

"We've the youngest team in the Premier League and they are growing up together."

Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill found it difficult to criticise his players on the basis of the improvement they have made since he replaced Steve Bruce in mid-December.

However, despite his side being well clear of trouble in ninth with 37 points he stressed the Blackburn result should serve as a warning.

"It is really difficult to throw my weight around," he said.

"We should have done better and I think we know.

"We have to be right and we haven't reached a situation where we can relax and shouldn't be able to relax.

"It is a lesson for us that at this stage of our development we have to be with it and stay with that intensity."

Midfielder Sebastian Larsson agreed with his manager, telling safc.com: "No excuses - it was a really poor performance.

"It was probably one of the worst games of football you will see in the Premier League this season, but you still need to get points - they did and we didn't.

"We know what we are capable of and we know that if we're not at it, we're not going to get anything and that's what's happened."

PA

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