Date:Wednesday September 20 2006
Stephane Henchoz believes that he could be the answer Blackburn Rovers have been looking for in solving their defensive problems they have had so far this season.
Henchoz who joined Rovers this summer on a free transfer is fully focused on improving his fitness ready for his chance of first team duty. The 32-year old Swiss International is serving his second stint at the club and is desperate to do well for them, believing he can be the missing link in a so far lacklustre defence.
During his first spell at Ewood Park, Henchoz would prove to be a success and fans favourite after being brought to the club by then manager Roy Hodgson in 1997. His fine performances would catch the attention of Liverpool, to whom he went in 1999. Although his style of play is different to that of his last term at Ewood Park, he hopes to be just as much a success and recapture his form of the time. He would say:
"In a way, I'm a different player now to the one I was then because I've got more experience - definitely.
"But, in another way, I was 23 when I was here the first time around and now I'm 32, so I'm a different player to the one that was here before.
"In football, when you start getting older, your pace starts to leave you a little bit."
He would also add:
"Even if you go to work in the gym, you can't get that back because it's a physical thing.
"But as you get older, you also learn to play more with your head. You feel more where you should be, and all those types of things."
Henchoz believes that it is just a matter of time until he gets his opportunity. With Ryan Nelsen likely to be out until Christmas, and if the current defensive set-up continues conceding at the rate they have been, his chance should arise sometime soon.
"I still believe I can do a job at this level so I haven't come here just to train with the team and be happy with that.
"I hope to get to the level of the other players as quickly as I can, then wait for the right opportunity and when it comes, make sure I take it."
Despite a shaky start to the season, with Rovers having one of the worst defensive starts so far, Hughes looks set to continue with the central partnership of Andre Ooijer and Zurab Khizanishvili, even if only for Saturday's away league tie at Middlesbrough.
Once fully fit, Henchoz will further face stiff competition from Andy Todd and Dominic Matteo, who will no doubt be fighting for a place. Henchoz however is not the least bit fazed by this competition, believing that he can get that all important rallying call. Talking of winning a place in the squad he said:
"When you play at big clubs who finished in Europe last season, of course there is always competition for places.
"But if you play in Europe then you need a big squad anyway to cope with the injuries and any other problems you might encounter.
"The season is very long, you have dips in form and players pick up injuries, so everyone needs to play their part over the course of the season."
During his spell at Liverpool, spanning nearly six years, Henchoz would be recognised as one of the Premierships most consistent defenders, making nearly 250 appearances and winning half-a-dozen trophies. His experience and quality would be why Hughes was keen to add him to the squad. He would finish by saying:
"This is a new adventure for me and I'm desperate to do well for Blackburn again."
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Date:Wednesday September 20 2006
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