Bruce dismisses Zaki rumours

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The Independent Football

Wigan manager Steve Bruce has dismissed suggestions on-loan striker Amr Zaki could leave the club in the January transfer window.

The Latics boss has also told the player that - despite his good first half of the season, scoring eight Barclays Premier League goals - he needs to fight his way back into the starting line-up.

Chelsea were the latest club to be linked with the Egypt international, who is on a season-long loan, but suggestions the Stamford Bridge club could snatch him next month were quashed by Bruce.

"It does become a bit repetitive and boring," he said.

"It is Chelsea this week, Real Madrid last week, Liverpool the week before, Man City before that. I think the whole thing needs to be addressed really.

"He is ours for the rest of the season.

"I know he has done well, but he's missed the last month (with injury) and he needs to make sure he starts playing and gets in our team - because that won't be easy for him either.

"All of this nonsense around him, I do believe gets to him a little bit. But I can't stop this constant speculation about Zaki."

Bruce has also had to fend off speculation about a number of his other players - England striker Emile Heskey, Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios all linked with moves.

However, he stressed he has the backing of chairman Dave Whelan and wants to keep the squad together.

"We are building the nucleus of a very good team here, and the last thing I want to do is dismantle it," he added.

"The big clubs are circling around us, and they are at our games every week - because our young players are terrific prospects.

"My biggest job of the lot is keeping hold of them, and I'll be fighting very hard to do that next month.

"I'm convinced we are on the verge of building a very good team, and it is complimentary and flattering other teams are interested in my players.

"But it is also very frustrating, because I don't want to lose any of them - I want to keep my best players."

The club host Blackburn on Saturday. But defender Emmerson Boyce is likely to be sidelined for a fortnight, after tearing a hamstring.

However, Paul Scharner should return after missing the defeat at Arsenal last week.