Blackburn V Norwich at Ewood Park : Match Preview
Kean: Players remain united
Blackburn boss Steve Kean insists his relegation-threatened squad are still close-knit despite the latest ructions which saw French defender Gael Givet left out of the last match. Kean says the issue with Givet has now been settled - the manager had deemed him "not in the right frame of mind" to face Swansea last weekend - and that the player has been "magnificent" in training following a meeting earlier this week. The Rovers manager, whose side entertain Norwich needing three points to keep their survival hopes alive, said the squad - now on a run of five successive Premier League defeats - had not been affected by the events surrounding Givet. Kean said: "There were things that seemed to surround us, as always, and there was meant to be a problem when there wasn't. "Gael came into the office and spoke with me and was very positive with his outlook so I'm delighted he's going to be back in the side. "When I spoke to him last week I didn't feel he was in the right frame of mind, this week he has been magnificent after our chat." Asked if the issue with Givet had destabilised the squad, Kean insisted that was not the case. He added: "You might go to work one day and not really feel that great and if you have a good boss they will be understanding, and I felt I dealt with it well. "To a man the players have all trained well and there has been a good positive atmosphere with no nervous edge."
Blackburn's plight looks increasingly desperate - they are second from bottom and recent results make the club look doomed to Championship football next season. Kean, though, is refusing to abandon hope and believes Rovers should take heart from their performance at Norwich earlier this season when a dubious penalty decision in the last minute saw them draw 3-3. He added: "Any team can go on a bad run, it doesn't make you a bad team. "This is 100% a three-pointer. We feel we owe Norwich one. "We felt hard done by at Norwich when we didn't get all three points earlier in the season - that day we were well worthy of the win. "The second part of the season they have done well but this is almost a cup match - form goes out of the window." Yakubu and Junior Hoilett have shaken off injury niggles and will play, but Martin Olsson (groin) remains a doubt and Grant Hanley is out for the remaining games of the season with ankle ligament damage.
Paul Lambert maintains Norwich must not let Blackburn's struggles deflect their own focus at Ewood Park. Rovers fans are set to protest against Kean and the club's hierarchy before kick-off, after a miserable run of form and the prospect of the drop. By contrast, the Canaries are well clear of the relegation dogfight, with 43 points heading into the final four games of what has been an impressive return to the top flight. After last weekend's 6-1 home defeat by title-chasing Manchester City, Lambert is expecting a positive response in what is expected to be a hostile atmosphere. "I know they are under pressure from all quarters to try and get a result, but I can't influence what is happening up there," the Norwich manager told a press conference. "They have to win the game, but the crowd at the moment are not with the manager. "You feel for Steve Kean and what he has had to go through. I don't think a fans protest is right. "They have quite a tough run-in, but the points are there for them to still do it, however I have my own things to concentrate on." Striker James Vaughan returns to the first-team squad for the first time since February after the summer signing from Everton suffered a serious knee injury and then a hamstring problem. Lambert is expected to make more additions to the squad over the summer as he prepares for a second season among the elite of English football. "The team needs considerable help to go again, there is no doubt about that," he said. "I have got things in my head about the way forward, but I never really look too far ahead, you just don't know. "Bringing players in with Premier League experience dictates the finances you have to lay out. "We have a rough idea of what we want, but it is not something I think about everyday."
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