'I said to the players' - Gary Rowett's Birmingham City plea as Preston North End first home test

Gary Rowett greets Ryan LoweGary Rowett greets Ryan Lowe
Gary Rowett greets Ryan Lowe
PNE face Birmingham City on April 1 - at St Andrew's

Gary Rowett is glad to be back at Birmingham City - on an interim basis - and has issued a rallying call, with Preston North End the next opponents at St Andrew's.

After the international break the Blues head to Queens Park Rangers, while PNE host Rotherham United. But, three days later, North End go to Birmingham in a game of great significance for both teams. Rowett, who has returned to his old club to stand in for Tony Mowbray, is tasked with keeping Birmingham in the Championship.

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The Blues have picked up one point from their last six matches and are level on points with 22nd placed Huddersfield Town - two better off, in terms of goal difference. Rowett has now spoken to in-house media, for his first interview since being appointed. The former Millwall, Stoke and Derby boss is both determined and optimistic about finishing the season strongly.

"It just felt like the right challenge," said Rowett. "I have been here before and been in this position, with the club, before. I have seen the fan base at its very, very best and what it is like to try and turn this type of situation around - and how positive that can be for everyone. Part of my motivation, really, was to try and bring that positivity back. It's very simple - to win some games of football and try work as hard as we can, to make sure no stone is left unturned.

"And to try and turn this team around and for them to show, what I think, they are capable of. My remit is short-term. That is the challenge I wanted to take on and I am really excited about that challenge. I think it is very simple and clear for me - give the players clear direction, try to give them a way to play that builds their confidence and allows them to go and show what they are very, very good at. And try to inspire the crowd, to help the team because that's part of this club.

"I said to the players and staff, that I have been in this position three times before. I know what it takes to get out of this position we are in and I know how we are going to try and do that. And, providing the players and staff whole heartedly buy in and are prepared to sacrifice what it takes -to be the best they can be - then I am very confident we can do that. We know it is a challenge and we know we need to build confidence very quickly. And we need to turn results around. But yeah, that is the focus - put a smile on people's faces and get to work."

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On the St Andrew's atmosphere, Rowett added: "What I'd really say is we're not going to do anything without the fans, so we need them behind us. We need them to get down to the stadium for the home games and support us away, for every minute of the game if they can, because that's going to be huge. There's going to be times when the crowd need the players to step up and there's going to be a lot of times when the players need the crowd to step up for them – and I know they'll do that. We have to make sure we do our part as well."

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