King follows grand tradition

FA Cup Fifth Round: Blackburn Rovers 4 Stoke City 1: Blessed with a proud striking heritage featuring the likes of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, Blackburn supporters can now heap their adoration upon Norwegian international Josh King after an extraordinary 19-minute hat-trick.

King follows grand tradition

For the time being at least.

Rovers recently announced a debt of nearly €110 million but were still able to hold onto their first-choice forwards Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes in the last two transfer windows, despite bids from Crystal Palace and Hull.

To that list of strikers who will be tracked by Premier League rivals before the window reopens in the summer, King can now add his name, as he carried Blackburn through to the cup quarter-finals and to within two victories of their first FA Cup final in 55 years.

“We’re in talks with Josh so the club are trying to take care of that,” said Bowyer, who will see King’s contract expire at the end of the season.

“Full credit to the owners, because they stuck by their valuation of Jordan Rhodes in the August window and Rudy in this window.

“Of course I hope we can keep them all this summer.”

King’s pace was simply too much for his Premier League opponents to handle, especially when Stoke were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Geoff Cameron just before the interval.

The player himself, who started his career with Manchester United, insists he has yet to look beyond the next three months of football.

“I’ve not really put any thought into the future,” said King, who spent the first four years of his career at Old Trafford without making the grade. “The window closed the other day and there were rumours about QPR but I’m 110% focused on Blackburn.

“I just have to keep doing my job which is to come in every day and work hard and when I’m given the chance, take it.”

King’s header equalised Peter Crouch’s early opening goal, before the Norwegian was tripped by Cameron and Gestede shot Rovers in front from the penalty spot. Within 10 minutes of the restart, King’s blistering pace had seen him sprint away from the Stoke defence to calmly convert two one-on-one chances.

“I’ve not really met many defenders who could handle my pace but I thought they’d be a bit harder to play against,” said King. “But when they got the red card it opened up.

“It’s my first professional hat-trick and obviously I’m thrilled. I actually forgot I was meant to take the match ball home until Tony Grant, the assistant manager, reminded me on my way out. The lads have put some messages on it and I’ll look forward to reading it when I get home.”

Former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes has now seen his team lose consecutive games by 4-1 scorelines, first at home to Manchester City and now to more modest opposition and, while he talked in philosophical fashion to the media post-match, he admitted his reaction to his under-achieving players had been slightly more inflammatory.

“We’re absolutely determined not to allow our season to drop off,” said Hughes.

“We’ve had a good season up to this point, two games won’t change that. We’ll pick ourselves up. We obviously have to dust ourselves down. It’s been a week that’s been difficult.”

Blackburn (4-4-2): Eastwood 7; Henley 7, Duffy 8, Kilgallon 8, Olsson 7; Taylor 7, Williamson 7 (Evans 45, 7), Cairney 7, Marshall (Conway 11, 8); Gestede 8, King 10 (Varney 78, 6).

Stoke (4-4-2): Butland 5; Cameron 5, Wollscheid 6, Muniesa 5 (Sidwell 51, 5), Bardsley 6; Arnautovic 5 (Wilkinson 45, 6), Nzonzi 4, Whelan 6, Moses 8 (Adam 66, 6); Diouf 6, Crouch 7.

Referee: A Taylor 7

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