Appleton absent from training amid Blackburn rumours

Appleton
Appleton's scheduled Thursday press conference at Blackpool was cancelled. Photo: PA

Blackpool manager Michael Appleton did not take training today in the wake of an official approach for his services from npower Championship counterparts Blackburn.

Rovers posted a statement on their official website, www.rovers.co.uk, last night confirming their interest in the 37-year-old former Portsmouth boss, with a Blackpool acknowledging a "formal approach" in a statement of their own shortly afterwards.

Amid reports Blackburn's bid to appoint Appleton as Henning Berg's successor had received the short shrift, Ewood Park managing director Derek Shaw this morning told Press Association Sport the clubs remained "in discussions".

This afternoon Blackpool declined to add any official comment to last night's statement, but England Under-21 winger Tom Ince confirmed to BBC Radio Lancashire that assistant manager Steve Thompson took training ahead of the weekend trip to Charlton.

Appleton's scheduled 12:30pm press briefing was cancelled and, after confirming his manager's absence, Ince said: "It's been like any normal day. We can't worry about things that are out of the players' control.

"As players, we stick together. There's a great bunch of lads in there and all we're doing is looking forward to Saturday.

"Whoever's our manager is whoever's our manager. We can't worry about what's happening off the pitch.

"We have to worry about working hard in training, going to Charlton and getting a win."

Meanwhile, Blackburn caretaker manager Gary Bowyer insisted himself and head of youth Terry McPhillips will be in charge of first-team affairs for tomorrow night's televised clash against Wolves at Molineux.

Bowyer has led Rovers to three consecutive victories following the abrupt end to Berg's 10-game tenure two days after Christmas and last week the club issued a statement to confirm he and McPhillips would remain in charge until the end of January.

Nevertheless, the 41-year-old former Rotherham defender is fully understanding of the situation.

"As we stand we expect to be taking the team at Wolves," he said.

"As far as we're aware we were told we had it until the end of January but, like I stressed last week when that announcement was made, we understand that anything can happen in that month.

"That seems to be what's happened at the moment. The club have made an approach and it's an official approach.

"To be perfectly honest, it's nothing to do with me. It's a board matter. I think it would be wrong of me to comment on a manager at another football club.

"Until we're told otherwise we'll continue to do what we've done and that's prepare the players for the game tomorrow.

"I was notified last night and told that the official approach had been made, like I have been with everything that's gone on in our time here.''

Appleton has won two and drawn seven of his 11 Championship games in charge of Blackpool following his appointment as Ian Holloway's replacement on November 7.

The Seasiders lie 14th in the table and six points shy of the play-offs - one point and one place behind Blackburn.

Any ambitions for a swift managerial appointment at Rovers could still be hindered by the club's organisational structure, with Indian owners Venky's required to rubber-stamp the move.

Outspoken global advisor Shebby Singh appears to have been marginalised during the pursuit of Appleton, with last night's official statement attributed to Shaw following a widely reported breakdown in relations between the two in the wake of Berg's sacking.