Exclusive: Scott Wharton focused on “clean sheets” for Blackburn to avoid drop from Championship

On the verge of relegation with just eight matches to go, Wharton shares his thoughts on what lies ahead.

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-03-29

Louis Hobbs

4 minutes read

Scott Wharton in Blackburn Rovers kit

From hoping for promotion to fighting for survival

Blackburn Rovers defender Scott Wharton has no doubts clean sheets will play a pivotal role in trying to avoid the “dreaded” drop.

Rovers are surprisingly languishing in 17th spot in the Championship, just three points above the relegation zone having been tipped as one of the early promotion favourites this term.

And with just eight games left to save their bacon, centre-back Wharton has called for the Lancashire to lock the back doors to keep their opponents at bay.

“I think if we want to stay in this league we’ve got to keep more clean sheets,” stressed Wharton.

“The new manager [John Eustace] has come in and made us more solid as a team, I think we massively needed that.

“The less goals we concede is the more the chance we’ve got of staying up. We know that – and knew that – and we look more solid as a team now, which is good.”

“We’ve not had enough clean sheets this season and, from my point of view, and probably from all the defenders and the whole squad, it’s not been good enough in terms of the amount of goals we’ve conceded this season.

“But if you take your foot off the gas, and you go on a bad run over Christmas, like we did, it just shows how tight this league is and how things can change very quickly.

“If you take your eye off, teams will punish you – and that’s what’s happened.

“We’ve got a lot more solid under the new gaffer and a lot more organised – and more together as a team, which is what we needed.” 

Image Credits: Camerasport

Image Credits: Camerasport

Staying focused on the final stretch

Rovers have drawn six of the last seven league matches and last won 10 games ago in an especially testing period for the club, with former boss Jon Dahl Tomasson having been given the boot following a poor run of form.

But Wharton, whose brother Adam left Ewood Park earlier this season in a club record £22million deal to Premier League Crystal Palace, is confident Rovers have enough quality to get out of trouble despite all the upheaval at the club.

“We’re focused on the final eight games now,” added Wharton.

“It’s good we’ve got plenty of players back, especially at this point in the season.

“It’s going to take all of us [to get out of trouble], not just the starting XI from now until the end of the season.

“There’s going to be injuries, suspensions, and changes in personnel, so we’re going to need everyone for these last eight games.

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Everyone has got to be ready. We know the task at hand.

“Every game is big, we’re fully aware of that, but we’re going into every [match] trying to win. We’re not going to shy away from the challenge.

“We won’t sit in and try and scrape a point, we want to win these games. We’re fully aware of the situation and we know it’s a big weekend, but we’re going into these games with confidence,” said Wharton. 

Avoiding relegation above all else

Wharton, 26, came through Blackburn’s academy system and has played for the former Premier League winners since graduating from the youth ranks back in 2015.

And the homegrown talent is acutely aware of trying to keep the club in the second tier and avoiding an unwanted relegation on his CV.

“It [staying up] means a lot to me, probably more than certain players,” revealed Wharton.

“It would be dreadful to get relegated with this club, it’s something I don’t want on my CV.

“I want to be pushing up the league rather than pushing down the league, so it’s massive we stay up.

“But we’ve put ourselves in this position and now it’s up to us to get out of it.”

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Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.