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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Appleton targets Rovers promotion

Michael Appleton targeted promotion after his unveiling as Blackburn manager and said he had been given complete control of transfers at the Championship club.

The former Blackpool manager, who replaced the sacked Henning Berg, said he had not yet spoken to Rovers' global advisor Shebby Singh, who appointed and then axed the Norwegian.

Appleton, who walked out of Blackpool after only 64 days in charge to take over their Lancashire rivals, said moving to Ewood Park was a chance he could not turn down.

"It was an opportunity to come to a fantastic club like Blackburn and I just wanted to be part of it," he explained.

"The board are very, very ambitious. They want Premier League football, which I totally understand.

"This has been a Premier League club for a long time. We have got 20 games left and we are not a million miles from the play-offs. They are certainly reachable."

Appleton defended Rovers owners Venky's and said they were determined to restore the club, relegated last season, to the top flight.

Singh, a former Malaysia international who is now a TV pundit, had been involved in the recruitment of players but Appleton said that was now his responsibility.

He added: "After the conversations I had and hearing how ambitious they were, one of the big things that stood out was they needed someone to captain the ship, and being full control of the football side is important.

"If I want to sign a player, or if someone is surplus to requirements, I am in a position to do that."

Of Singh, he said: "We have not had a conversation yet."

Appleton has begun to bolster his backroom staff by bringing in goalkeeping coach John Keeley from his former club Portsmouth.

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