Tyler Morton revealed he has played in central defence before – but not just since the age of six!
Morton is hoping his performance in the Carabao Cup win over Bradford City is enough to earn him a first Championship start for Rovers when Stoke City visit Ewood Park on Saturday.
There Rovers will be aiming to make it three successive home wins in the league having suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats on their travels against Reading and Sheffield United before their success in the league cup.
Jon Dahl Tomasson revealed Morton’s inclusion at centre half was merely a case of needs must, with Daniel Ayala given the night off and Ash Phillips on the bench.
Hayden Carter faces an outside chance of featuring this weekend after four weeks out with a hamstring injury, though the weekend will come too soon for Scott Wharton.
Rovers are holding out for Morton’s Liverpool team-mate Sepp van den Berg in their bid to strengthen in central half, with the former seen as a central midfield option by Tomasson who was impressed with what he saw from his team.
Asked if he had played in central defence before, Morton said: “I was speaking to my dad ahead of the game, it was ages ago, maybe when I six, seven, but since then I haven’t really played there.
“I found it good, I enjoyed it and it was a good challenge for me.
“I’m willing to do whatever the gaffer wants me to or the staff want me to do, and if it means playing centre half and getting the win, then I’d be happy.
“I was happy with how I played and I’d do it again for him. I’d do anything for him and Blackburn because this is where I am and the club I’m playing at.
“As many experiences as I can get, wherever I’m playing, I’ll take it in my stride and see where it takes me.”
The 19-year-old was one of three teenagers in a starting line-up with an average age of 21.7, captained by Bradley Dack.
Louie Annesley was handed his debut alongside Morton as Tomasson made 10 changes for the league cup.
Morton cruised the game, completing the most passes (67) of anyone on the pitch as Rovers dominated for the large majority, despite having to come from behind after trailing to Andy Cook’s 18th minute goal.
Injuries and a failure to yet add in central defence meant Morton was thrust into the role, but he coped admirably, while his ability on the ball allowed Rovers to build from the back.
“I didn’t have any choice,” Tomasson said of using Morton in central defence.
“I always say good footballer players can play anywhere.
“I told him on Monday and he was up for the challenges, good players can play anywhere. Cruyff always said put the best 11 players on the pitch and it doesn’t matter where they play.”
Morton has now started both of Rovers’ league cup ties and been used off the bench in the four Championship matches in which he has been involved.
A starting spot against Stoke City is now his aim and something he feels ready for after a period of integration.
He said: “I think I’m definitely ready.
“It’s been nice to have been integrated with minutes here and there but I’m definitely ready whenever the gaffer puts me in I’ll be ready to start.
“We haven’t been playing how we expect and we know that.
“We’ve been working on that but the lads were resilient and I knew that we would bounce back.”
Rovers negotiated what could have been a tricky tie against League Two side Bradford to make it into round three for the first time in four years.
They also overcame a League Two side in round one seeing off Hartlepool United, the only Championship team to beat lower league opposition in the first round.
Indeed, they are, along with Burnley, one of only two Championship teams guaranteed their spot in the round three draw, though Bristol City will be aiming to join them tonight.
Given the number of Championship teams that have suffered at the hands of lower league opposition Morton said the players’ application and attitude was key to ensuring their progress.
“I think everyone’s attitude was spot on. You could see that in the press and how we helped each other, it was second to none.
“We’re really happy with how it went.
“These are opportunities and you have to work hard for them whenever they are.
“I think everyone out there has worked hard and played well.
“We stuck together, played well and got the win so really happy.”
Rovers started the game on the front foot but fell behind to Bradford’s first attack.
But Rovers’ inexperienced pair of Morton and Annesley restricted the hosts’ chances, helped by the possession that Tomasson’s side enjoyed.
“We started really well, but it’s a new team, getting to know each other a little bit,” Morton added.
“Off the ball it was tough, a big lad up top against two centre halves, well I’m a centre mid and Louie hadn’t played before, but I thought we reacted really well (to going behind).
“Louie is a great lad and to play his first senior game but to also help me in my first senior game at centre half, I thought he did really well and his block at the end showed the quality of his performance.”
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