Tony Mowbray believes that uncertainty over the future of Blackburn Rovers players is not an excuse for poor form.
There are key players in the side whose futures at Ewood Park remain unclear, such as Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan and Joe Rothwell.
Even Mowbray’s own future at the club is in doubt with his own contract set to expire in the summer, with no decision made yet on a possible extension.
But the 58-year old does not wish to use that as an excuse for his side’s collapse in form in the second half of the season.
Two defeats in a row over Easter weekend has seen Rovers fall to 8th in the Championship table, three points adrift of the play-off places.
However, the Blackburn boss believes those players with uncertain futures wouldn’t be in the team if Mowbray felt it would impact their performances.
“I have my own strong opinions on the way they’ve behaved and reacted,” said Mowbray, via Lancashire Telegraph.
“What I would say is that they wouldn’t be in the team if I felt that they had downed tools, but I think it’s human nature to make sure you are available at the end of the season when your contract expires and you aren’t sitting with your leg all wrapped up and damaged.
“I think it’s great credit to the players who are out of contract that they have continued to perform at the level they have.”
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Injuries have also heavily affected the club’s second half of the season, with talisman Ben Brereton Diaz struggling to maintain his fitness for several weeks.
With three games left in the regular season, Blackburn could still turn things around to earn a top six finish, but the team will need wins in all of their final games against the likes of Preston North End, Bournemouth and Birmingham City.
Mowbray’s side face Preston next on April 25.
It would be very easy for Mowbray to use excuses as a reason for the side’s poor form.
So it is good that he is fronting up to the problem at hand and defending his players’ professionalism.
It is not an easy environment to work in when so many key players, and even the manager, are unclear where they will be for next season.
But this team is still capable of stringing together some good results, and three wins from their three final games could still be enough to secure a play-off place.