Former Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher believes caretaker Rovers boss Gary Bowyer has been thrust into a mission "to save the club" after taking over from the sacked Michael Appleton.

For the second time this season, Bowyer has been placed in temporary control of the first team at Ewood Park, and it may be his job until the end of the campaign. Blackburn are just four points clear of the relegation zone in the npower Championship and have taken only two points from their last six league games.

Appleton won four, drew five and lost six of his 15 matches in charge but the team's form had taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, and they were beaten at home by Millwall in an FA Cup quarter-final replay last week. Gallacher, who starred for the team in the 1990s, said on Sky Sports News: "The reaction Gary got from the players last time was pretty good."

Gallacher hopes club owners Venky's do not place too much pressure on Bowyer, 41, who also filled the void between Henning Berg's departure on December 27 and Appleton's appointment on January 12, winning three and drawing one of his four games in charge.

Gallacher added: "Hopefully they don't put the pressure on Gary that the two other managers have had. He got the club ready for Michael Appleton coming in and now he has nine matches to save the club. They are looking at him to be the saviour for now. There's no doubt it's a very, very tough ask."

Venky's faced criticism from fans' group Rovers Trust for their move to dismiss Appleton after just 67 days in the job. Rovers Trust said the move was "incomprehensible and ill thought out" and warned the owners they must bring some stability to the club or risk a second straight relegation.

Indian poultry firm Venky's are now looking for a fifth permanent manager since their £23million takeover of the club in November 2010.

Wayne Wild, the co-chairman of Rovers Trust, said in a statement: "News of Michael Appleton's sacking ought to come as a surprise, but sadly it does not. This is just the latest in a long line of incomprehensible and ill-thought out decisions that go back to the very start of the Venky's ownership of Blackburn.

"It is obvious to any experienced fan or football professional that to keep changing managers - we are now looking for our sixth this season - will only lead to yet more instability and uncertainty. It is also a costly exercise to keep paying off staff.

"The owners have to face up to the fact they are entirely responsible for the situation we find ourselves in with a second successive relegation a distinct possibility."