Date:Wednesday August 16 2006
Who are the men to walk through the gates at Ewood Park this summer for the last time as a Rovers player and will they be missed?
With the Premiership season about to kick-off before our attention turns to Saturday`s trip to Portsmouth lets look at who has left Ewood this summer.
Lorenzo Amoruso: Signed from Glasgow Rangers following a successful 6-year spell by former Boss Graeme Souness in the summer of 2003 on a free transfer.
Amoruso was a popular player but he struggled with form and countless injury lay-off`s during his time at Ewood. Injured in October 2003 in his first season, shortly after his arrival he would be out for 5 months with a knee injury. He would recover and recapture his first team place, also improving his form, but his 2004/2005 season would be blighted with injury. Last season he would not make a single appearance.
The Italian defender would be released in May. With plenty of other options in central defence he will not be as missed as he could have been.
Vratislav Gresko: Another Souness signing. Gresko Joined Rovers in January 2003, initially for the remainder of that season, but would be handed a longer contract in August of that year.
In December of the 2004/2005 season he would damage his cruciate ligament meaning he missed the remiander of the season, and like Amoruso failed to feature last season.
The Slovak Internationals chances would have been limited this term, if truth be known he`s struggled to hold down a first team place at most clubs since his move from Bayer Leverkusen to Inter Milan, then on to Parma and subsequently Rovers so Hughes decided to release him once his deal ended.
Steven Drench: The 20-year-old Goalkeeper, who featured 24 times for Morecambe during a loan spell last season, was released in May without making a first team appearance at Ewood Park.
With added competition from Jason Brown, with that already from Peter Enckelman his chances of even being number two to Brad Friedel would have been almost non-existent.
Jerome Watt: Another youngster released by Mark Hughes in the summer. The England U19 International didn`t quite have what Hughes was looking for. Given a trial with Northampton in Pre-Season, he would eventually sign on non-contract terms until Christmas with the view to a longer term deal.
Paul Dickov: The former Scottish International came to Ewood in 2004 following Leicester City`s relegation from the Premiership. His arrival would be to the disapproval of the Leicester faithful, having publicly pledged to remain with the club in a bid to see them return to the top flight.
A successful first season would see regular football, but after beginning last season injured, the summer arrivals of Craig Bellamy and Shefki Kuqi, then loan signing of Florent Sinama Pongolle in January, Dickov would find regular action hard to come across, and returned to Manchester City on a free transfer in May.
Although very determined and willing to battle the new arrivals this summer would have seen his opportunities restricted even more. Jason Roberts will prove a more than adequate replacement being younger, stronger, more powerful and if brutally honest more clinical in front of goal.
Craig Bellamy: Bellamy possibly wouldn`t have joined Rovers at all, even though his former Welsh International Manager Hughes would be in charge had it not been for many a falling out with former Rovers Boss Graeme Souness during his time at Newcastle United. A series of high profile rows would eventually see Bellamy loaned to Celtic at the end of the 2004/2005 season. Following a successful loan the club would want to sign him on a permanent basis, but lack of funds would see him arrive at Ewood for a fee as little as £2.5 million, but most likely as high as £5 million.
Despite some injury problems last season Bellamy would prove a very successful signing and highly popular one, managing 17 goals in 30 odd appearances making him a target for high profile clubs. Once Liverpool activated a clause in his contract (any club being able to offer Bellamy Champions League football could speak with him providing they met the £6 million transfer valuation put on Bellamy`s head) Rovers were given no choice but to let him speak to Rafa Benitez`s side. Bellamy would sign for Liverpool on the 23rd June 2006 for a fee of around £6 million, taking his combined transfer fees over £20 million in six years.
Bellamy will be missed, his ability and talent could have been hard to replace but more than done so potentially with the arrivals of the talented Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts. Bellamy`s pace will prove particularly hard to replace, but again Roberts is no slouch, nor for that matter is McCarthy.
Gary Harkins: Scottish midfeilder Harkins came through the Rovers youth set-up but failed to make a first team apperance. He would be loaned out several times before being allowed to Join Grimsby on a free tansfer in July 2006.
With a number of quality midfeidlers already at the club, and the emergence of young Keith Treacy he would rarely, if at all featured in the coming season(s).
Date:Wednesday August 16 2006
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