Date:Saturday September 30 2006
Blackburn Rovers' veteran Tugay Kerimoglu could be set for yet another contract extension if boss Mark Hughes continues to be impressed by the midfield maestro's performances.
It is no coincidence that Rovers' upturn in fortunes has come about since Tugay, who missed the opening three games through suspension following his sending off on the final day of last season, returned to the team.
With offers from his native Turkey, and the Middle East in the past Tugay has remained at Ewood Park, with Hughes convincing him to extend his time with Rovers into the 2006-2007 season.
Tugay was superb once again against Salzburg on Thursday night running the show from the middle of the park, his range of passing as good as always, with his through ball to Benni McCarthy creating the opening goal, which the South African would in part engineer himself also.
Hughes was quick to compliment the Rovers living legend ranking him right up with the best players he's ever played with:
"I was very fortunate in my career to play with a number of top players, and Tugay is very much up there with them.
"In the two UEFA Cup games, he has been absolutely superb, although in fairness to him he was excellent at Middlesbrough last weekend as well.
"But he is belying his years. You can see the enjoyment in his face. He is enjoying every game he is involved in.
"We've not discussed another extension to his contract but, if the season progresses as we hope it does and he continues to be an influence, then we would absolutely look again."
One of Graeme Souness' better signings, the former Turkish International, who amounted almost 100 International caps arrived from Glasgow Rangers in July 2001 for £1.3 million, which when you look back on it is nothing for a man who has been instrumental in Rovers' success over the years, quietly and sometimes over enthusiastically getting on with his job not looking for all the plaudits.
However at 36-years-old, approaching 200 games for Rovers, Tugay is no longer a spring chicken so despite his high quality performances over using him could make him less effective, and Hughes knows this:
"We have to be careful how we use him.
"We have to make sure we don't give him too many games to dull his influence as he is a big player for us.
"It means that during a season he won't play every game, and he understands that, so it's up to me to make sure I use him in the right games.
"He still played 30-odd for us last season, and I think he can do the same this season because I don't see any indication of a wane in his power or strength."
Whenever possible you can see Hughes is resting and saving Tugay, doing again also in the UEFA Cup tie taking him off with time to play when it was apparent that the job was done. This will be a trend that will continue.
A Vital Blackburn member, I can't remember who this was, it may have been Simon Garner Legend or Clint once said, "when Tugay plays well so do Rovers," which is certainly true. One day they will have to do without him, but from the looks of things this may not be quite as soon as some may have feared.
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Date:Saturday September 30 2006
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