Samba calls in sick

Wantaway Blackburn central defender Christopher Samba is to go into hospital for tests after falling ill ahead of the club’s superb win over Fulham.

Rovers manager Steve Kean confirmed on Saturday, after a 3-1 victory at home to the Cottagers achieved with only 10 men after Ayegbeni Yakubu’s 23rd-minute dismissal, that Samba then claimed to be sick on Friday morning.

“He trained really well all week, but then he texted the doctor on Friday to say he was not feeling well,” said Kean. “That was really disappointing because he would certainly have been available to play.

He added: “So he’ll be at the hospital either [on Saturday night] or [Sunday] morning, just for tests because he has complained of severe stomach cramps. We’ll make sure the virus he has is not too serious, that it clears up and he can be available for Everton.”

After Yakubu saw red for the first time in his nine-year English football career for a high, studs-first challenge on Danny Murphy, it was Rovers who took the initiative.

Morten Gamst Pederson scored with virtually the last kick of the first half with a 20-yard free-kick, with David Dunn netting his first goal since February 5 last year just 56 seconds into the second period.

Christopher Samba
Christopher Samba

Although Damien Duff pulled one back soon after, substitute Mauro Formica settled matters in the 79th minute to lift Rovers out of the bottom three for the first time in four months.

For Fulham, it was only their second defeat in their last eight games, pulling them to within six points of the relegation zone, and Jol said: “It looked like everything was going for us, but then we conceded a goal just before half-time, which is not what you want.

“We tried to repair the damage, but then they scored a second early in the second half, which we couldn’t do anything about.

“We pulled one back, but when they got their third it was over, so all credit to them.”

Blackburn Rovers captain says they are going down


CHRISTOPHER SAMBA delivered the damning words that beleaguered Steve Kean did not want to hear before a fixture that is likely to decide his future as Blackburn manager.

Crisis-hit Rovers visit fellow strugglers Bolton tomorrow night, with skipper Samba saying: “We’re not good enough to stay up.”

If the hostility from the fans was not bad enough, Samba’s admission that the team’s confidence and self-belief has been shot to pieces will give Kean even more to worry about.

After Rovers produced their worst performance of the season to slump to their 10th defeat in 16 Premier League games, Samba tried to take the heat off the manager by blaming the players – but it leaves Kean with a near-impossible job to pick his team off the floor for the important game against fellow strugglers Bolton.

Samba said: “We are so low. We were not good enough. As a team we have not proved we are good enough to stay in the league. The mood in the dressing room is down. Offensively, we were not good enough. Defensively, we were poor. It was stupid defending.

“Now we have another game and regaining our spirit for that is going to be very difficult.

Chris Samba
Chris Samba

“We are not here to discuss the manager. He is doing his job and trying to lift us. But the players are responsible – we are on the pitch. It is our job. It is too easy to blame the manager.”

Failure to beat Bolton will almost certainly cost Kean his job after just seven Premier League wins in the 12 months since he was appointed – with Mark Hughes leading a list of likely replacements that also includes Alan Shearer, Steve Bruce, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Alan Curbishley.

It hardly came as consolation for Rovers that it took two wonder goals to beat them – James Morrison’s long-range volley and Peter Odemwingie’s curling late winner.

But Odemwingie was allowed time and space for his shot thanks to appalling defending by emergency left-back Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Goodwillie.

Blackburn’s route-one equaliser was not in the same class – a long punt by goalkeeper Paul Robinson was knocked down by Samba and Scott Dann was there to scramble the ball home.

Kean remains defiant and says he has had no indication from the club’s Indian owners that he is on the brink of the sack.

“There have always been reassurances from the owners,” he said. “I have not heard anything to the contrary. Yes, I do think I will be here for Tuesday’s game.

“We have a massive game against Bolton and we have to show courage, a desire to fight for a position we feel we should be in.”

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson, sacked by Rovers at a similar stage of the season in 1998, backed Kean. But his was a lone voice at Ewood Park.