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By ESPN Staff

Blackburn boss Kean in fighting mood

Steve Kean insists he can take the flak as Blackburn battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Rovers boss has been the target of criticism from disaffected fans after Blackburn slumped from a relatively safe position when he took over before Christmas to the verge of the relegation zone.

Kean admits it has been a steep learning curve but insists he can drive his players to perform as they need to and secure survival, starting with the visit of Manchester City on Monday.

He said: "I can understand the frustrations and we all share those frustrations when we go through a period of time when we don't win games. There have been too many draws but it is very fine margins and we have more points away from home than we did last season.

"The flak goes with the job. You have to have broad shoulders and hopefully the fans will see we mean business from the first whistle.''

Blackburn drew 1-1 at Eastlands in September and City will be without Carlos Tevez this time. Kean believes Roberto Mancini's side will miss the Argentina striker but accepts the strength in depth of the City squad means his absence will not be a devastating one.

"I was at the Liverpool game when Tevez pulled his hamstring, he's a quality player and I'm sure they will miss him,'' Kean said. "But they have such strength in depth that out goes one £30-40 million player and another one comes in.''

Ryan Nelsen and Vince Grella are injured and Steven Nzonzi serves the last match of a three-game suspension. Roque Santa Cruz, meanwhile, is unavailable against his parent club.

Junior Hoilett, however, the 20-year-old Canada-born striker who has been the one player to really emerge from the shadows since Kean's appointment, should be back after missing the defeat at Everton with a hamstring problem. Kean admits Hoilett's form has earned him a new deal but will not sit down to discuss the terms until Blackburn's future is resolved.

"He's exploded onto the scene this season with dazzling performances at times,'' Kean said. "We are going to sit down and talk with him - but I mentioned to the directors and the owners of the importance not to take the focus away from the games and his performances.

"If we had started the contract talks beforehand, like we did before he signed his contract the last time around, it really affected him and his form dipped and he ended up in a bad place and not in the team.

"Hopefully he's enjoying his time here, he's been wonderful to work with and we are confident we can sit down and put something together that ties him up, like Phil Jones, for four or five years and a big commitment to the club.''

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