Hughes predicts Kuqi will give Blackburn desired attacking flair
Wednesday 24 August 2005
Hughes snapped up Kuqi for nothing from Ipswich Town in June and has been impressed with the way the Finland forward has adapted to a difficult introduction to the Premiership.
Injuries to Craig Bellamy and Matt Jansen, and the continued suspension of Paul Dickov after his opening-day sending-off, mean Kuqi will once again be expected to lead the Rovers line on his own tomorrow when Tottenham Hotspur visit Ewood Park.
But Hughes said: "Shefki has made a real impact since he has been here. He has been full of drive and commitment and he has shown everybody what he is about.
"We are delighted Shefki is here because he gives you a big physical presence and mobility and great ability as well.
"Shefki is a guy whose performances will endear him to the supporters, and I am sure he is going to make a big impact this year."
Hughes has confirmed fellow new boy Bellamy will be sidelined for at least two more weeks with the thigh strain he picked up on international duty with Wales last month. Jansen continues his steady recovery from a bad pre-season leg injury, successfully negotiating part of the Lancashire Senior Cup defeat to Bolton on Monday night.
Hughes is on a high at the moment after seeing his side respond spectacularly to their first-day loss at West Ham United and the continued spotlight over their poor disciplinary record.
Two goal-of-the-season contenders from Morten Gamst Pedersen and Tugay saw off Fulham.
"The fact we played so well at the weekend and scored two outstanding goals has helped us, because more people now know what we are capable of," said Hughes. "The first half was as good as we have played since I have been here, and our reaction after conceding the equaliser was good as well.
"We kicked on and got stronger after their goal, and I was delighted."
However, Rovers' mini-revival will be strongly tested by a Tottenham team who will travel north with a 100 per cent record this season and ambitions of elbowing their way into the Champions League shake-up this season. Hughes has watched the improvements at White Hart Lane with interest and insists it is not too far-fetched to envisage Martin Jol's side maintaining their bright start all the way to the business end of the season next year.
"Spurs have started very brightly and they have a lot of attacking potential and individual talent who can hurt you if you give them the chance," he said.
"They have invested, and a lot of people now view then as genuine contenders to, if not win the league, then certainly compete right to the end and provide another option up there.
"It is important that we take the initiative and impose ourselves on them and try not to let them get into the game."
Hughes's only potential option to change his side is to bring back Aaron Mokoena, who has recovered from his ankle injury but will more than likely have to be content with a place on the bench.
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