KEAN TESTS BLACKBURN SPIRIT
Blackburn manager Steve Kean tested the togetherness of his squad with a team-building exercise last week and was pleased with the results.
With no Barclays Premier League action at the weekend because of the FA Cup, Rovers made the short trip over the county border to Yorkshire for a couple of days.
The staff and players took part in quad biking, go-karting and even an 'It's A Knockout'-style event, as well as a session at Leeds' training ground, and Kean feels the time away highlighted the unity within the squad.
Blackburn have had their fair share of upheaval this season with protests against owners Venky's and Kean off the field and captain Chris Samba handing in a transfer request which eventually saw him move late last month to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.
But after four points from their last two matches lifted the club three points above the relegation zone, Kean believes everyone is pulling in the right direction.
"We have a really good group and everyone who is in the group wants to be here," said the Rovers boss.
"It was really good to get everyone together because when you have a long time (between games) those extra couple of days can become repetitive having them at the training ground.
"Then they get a bit excited at the weekend and all of a sudden there is nothing there.
"We wanted to break that and get them away to a different environment and (Leeds manager) Neil Warnock was great, giving us his training ground and we had a nice hotel, some team building and some good training as well.
"With 10 games to go it was really important to get the staff and the players together and just make sure going into this game and the Bolton game we are as prepared as we can be."
Goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who has taken over the captaincy in recent weeks, echoed his manager's sentiments.
"It was very good. We had fun," he said of their trip away.
"We have a very good group of players here and it went very well."
Asked what the change had been to alter the atmosphere at the club, Robinson made a veiled dig at Samba.
"The transfer window has closed and we have a bunch of players here who want to be here.
"We know this is the group who have to get us out of the trouble we are in.
"We are here till the end of the season and we are in it together.
"No-one wants to see this club go down and you are seeing that on the pitch.
"What we have here is what we have to go with. We have good quality and a good group of players and we should be able to do that.
"For the first time in a long time we are going into games feeling we are going to win them."
Rovers host Sunderland on Tuesday looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since November 2010.
Kean admits opening up a six-point gap over the bottom three would be "massive" and he feels his side will have revenge on their mind after losing to a 90th-minute goal in Martin O'Neill's first match in charge back in December.
"We found ourselves on the end of a result in Martin's first game in charge so we feel as if we owe them one and if we continue to play the way we are playing there is no reason why we can't," he said.
"We let ourselves down a little bit in terms of defending too deep and in the last couple of minutes we were hanging on for a point until Seb Larsson bent in a free-kick.
"We are playing well at the moment so we will get after them.
"Martin has done fantastic since he went there but we have got to stop that and make sure we set the tone of the game because Sunderland are coming to our ground."
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