Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Emerton: Cruz departure won't leave Rovers Blackburn exposed

Blackburn midfielder Brett Emerton insists the departure of striker Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City will not have a detrimental effect on the squad.

Blackburn midfielder Brett Emerton insists the departure of striker Roque Santa Cruz to Manchester City will not have a detrimental effect on the squad.

The Paraguay international completed a long-anticipated £17million transfer to Eastlands on Monday having expressed his desire to leave Ewood Park in December.

Santa Cruz struggled with injury last season and played just 11 matches in 2009, being sidelined completely from early March.

It was in stark contrast to his maiden campaign with Rovers the previous year when he scored 23 goals.

The sale of striker Matt Derbyshire to Olympiacos yesterday means manager Sam Allardyce needs to strengthen his attacking options but Emerton is not concerned.

"Roque has been fantastic for Blackburn Rovers," said the Australia midfielder, who is confident of being fit for the start of the season having ruptured a cruciate knee ligament in January.

"He is a great player and a great guy and we will miss him but these things happen in football, players come and players go

"If you look at how the team finished last season, they did it without the injured Roque and without Matt Derbyshire.

"You also had players like myself, Steven Reid and David Dunn who were injured."

Emerton added in the Lancashire Telegraph: "I am sure the squad will be full of confidence at the way we finished the season, it was European form, and with players coming back and a few new signings it will be like a new start."

Derbyshire's four-year deal with the Greek champions was completed yesterday.

The 23-year-old, who scored eight goals in 11 appearances in a loan spell which began in January, said: "I am very happy with this transfer. I wanted to stay at Olympiacos.

"I hope to improve myself and become much better next season. I want to score more goals with Olympiacos."

Rovers are also being linked with a move for Egypt winger Ahmed Al Muhammadi, a player former boss Paul Ince had on trial before he was sacked in December.

Alaa Abdul-Sadek, football director at the 22-year-old's ENNPI Cairo club, claimed: "Blackburn have opened fresh talks to purchase Al Muhammadi this summer.

"Blackburn want him to undergo a five-day trial, but the boardroom turned them down as Al Muhammadi was tested at the same club before - a second trial would be pointless, I believe.

"If they want to sign him, they have to come up with a solid offer."