Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Allardyce buries the hatchet with Rovers forward Santa Cruz

AFP , BLACKBURN, ENGLAND

Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce has buried the hatchet with unsettled striker Roque Santa Cruz in time for Christmas.

Paraguay international Santa Cruz admitted last week he would be keen to leave the struggling Premier League team if a “better or an ambitious club” came in for him during next month’s transfer window.

Allardyce responded by calling the former Bayern Munich star in for showdown talks, which sparked reports he was ready to sell the forward to Manchester City.

But Allardyce now claims he is still keen to keep Santa Cruz.

“We’ve had the discussion and I just said the timing I thought was very poor,” Allardyce said. “He should have not done that interview. It was not certainly set up by this football club, which was disappointing. Obviously I felt it was slightly sinister, the timing of it, but we have resolved that and I have told him I don’t want him to leave and that is probably the end of it. You can never be 100 percent about anything in this game, but I haven’t come here to sell my best players.”

Santa Cruz missed Allardyce’s first match in charge — Saturday’s 3-0 victory at home to Stoke City — with a calf injury and he is also likely to be sidelined for the Boxing Day trip to Sunderland.

But Rovers midfielder David Dunn believes some of the criticism leveled at Santa Cruz has been unfair.

“Roque is such a good genuine lad. He has been playing with injuries, which he shouldn’t have been doing,” Dunn said. “He wanted to help the cause and help us get out of the mess. He is one of those guys who is a top lad, always tries his best and is not a bad egg around the place. He is 100 percent committed to the cause. I had a chat with him last night about this and he will be fine with it.”

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