Blackburn Rovers Vs Birmingham, Sat 9 Apr 2011

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Blackburn manager Steve Kean refuses to class Saturday's visit of fellow strugglers Birmingham as a "must-win" match in their bid to avoid relegation.

With just seven games remaining and the club two points above the drop zone time is running out for teams to safeguard their future.

And despite home matches being an obvious strength for Rovers - they have lost seven of the last 40 at Ewood Park - Kean stressed they cannot afford to pin their hopes on beating the likes of Birmingham and Bolton, with both high-flying Manchester clubs also yet to make the trip to east Lancashire.

"They are all massive games," he said.

"When you get to this stage of the season I don't think you can say Birmingham is any more important than Bolton or Arsenal (last week) because then you get into the tendency of writing games off.

"We've also got Everton, West Ham and Wolves - they are all important and we have to be careful not to minimise the importance of any of them.

"The players know how important each game is and see it as seven cup finals rather than two against Bolton and Birmingham.

"We must get something out of every single game and that is the mindset we must adopt.

"It could be the case we could be safe with two wins but what we have to do is add on.

"I think it is inches which is going to make the difference, not yards, because there is so little between the teams.

"We are two unbeaten at the moment and we have got a bit of momentum from fantastic effort from the lads."


Having got what many considered a bonus point in the goalless draw at Arsenal last week, where they had midfielder Steven Nzonzi sent off, Kean wants to ensure his team are not distracted by that result.

Rovers are above Birmingham only on goal difference and with five of their last seven meetings having been settled by the odd goal Saturday's encounter is likely to be closely-contested.

"The squad is bright and bubbly because sometimes when you get a point at a place like the Emirates, where you have not done well for years, it almost feels like a win," the Rovers boss added.

"It is keeping that focus on the next game, taking the confidence from the game before but not becoming lethargic or thinking because you have had a very good result against a team going for the championship that the next one is automatic - it is very far from that."


Ben Foster believes Birmingham can guarantee Barclays Premier League survival if their proud defensive record stays intact for the remainder of the season.

England keeper Foster said: "If you look at some of the teams around us, you'd say they are pretty good at scoring goals.

"But they haven't got what we've got at the back. As easily as those teams can score, they can ship goals as well.

"I think we've been pretty good at nicking the odd goal and grinding results out.

"It's what we are about in a way and our defensive record is one of the best of the teams in the bottom half of the table.

"Yes, we know we've got to score more goals and win more games.

"But hopefully that kind of record at the other end of the pitch will see us through as well."

Foster insists whoever holds their nerve in the final six weeks of the campaign will stay up.

He said: "Coming towards the end of the season, the games are vital for everyone, it's going to be a bit scrappy and not beautiful football to watch.

"It's about how you cope and do whatever you can to get the result. We've got some tough games - but they are games we'd like to think we can get something from."

Blues boss Alex McLeish admits he will be relatively content if Carling Cup winners Birmingham end the season in 17th spot.

He said: "What I would like to see is we don't lose any games between now and the end of the season.

"It will probably be very difficult but we've got to have that mindset, have that attitude.

"If we stay up by one goal, I'll be quite happy. I've always said we've got to get in the top 17."

Defender Martin Jiranek and winger David Bentley are unavailable through injury which strikers Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins are rated 50-50.

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