Rovers found themselves 3-0 down following a dismal first-half performance at home to Peterborough on Saturday.
New loan signings Cameron Stewart and David Jones took part in a much-improved display after the interval, along with right-back Adam Henley, himself returning from a hamstring injury, but the trio could not prevent a 3-2 defeat.
Appleton told Radio Rovers: "Adam Henley hasn't had a lot of football lately but he did ever so well, David Jones got himself a goal but more importantly he won every second ball, he was positive, he looked to play and was always on the front foot.
"With Cameron as well, he's got great feet and is very quick. Every time he gets the ball the crowd come alive and so do our players as they expect him to do something on the ball."
Josh King (hamstring) and Leon Best (knee) remain out but could come into contention for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Millwall.
David Dunn (calf), Martin Olsson (eye), Paul Robinson (back), Dickson Etuhu (knee), Lee Williamson and Colin Kazim-Richards (both ankle) are all sidelined.