Santa Cruz signs new Blackburn deal

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The Independent Football

Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz has committed himself to the club by signing a new four-year deal.

The Paraguay international had been the subject of a bid from Manchester City earlier this summer as well as reported interest from several other clubs.

However, the 27-year-old has opted to pen a contract extension to tie him to Ewood Park until 2012.

After David Bentley left Rovers to join Tottenham earlier this summer Santa Cruz was also tipped to move on.

He was hugely impressive in his debut Premier League campaign after moving to Lancashire from Bayern Munich last summer with 23 goals in all competitions.

That feat led former Rovers boss Mark Hughes to attempt to take him to Manchester City recently while the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham were supposedly interested.

A statement on the club's website, rovers.co.uk, said: "Blackburn Rovers are delighted to announce that Roque Santa Cruz has signed a new four-year contract with the club, running through until 2012."

Rovers gambled on the skilful Paraguayan and paid Bayern less than £4m after a series of serious knee injuries wrecked his time in Bavaria.

And the move paid off as Santa Cruz - who scored in Saturday's 3-2 win at Everton - played 36 of 38 Premier League games last season.

Only this morning vice-captain David Dunn said it would be "a tragedy" if Santa Cruz and fellow striker Benni McCarthy were to leave.

"I don't think any player, certainly not those two, will be leaving," he added.

"As a Blackburn fan it would be a tragedy if they left so I'm sure the club wouldn't allow that.

"You could bid £30m for Roque and I'm sure they wouldn't let him go, in my opinion.

"Roque is a tremendous player, as is Benni. We are a club that is trying to achieve things ourselves and you couldn't let Brad Friedel, David Bentley and Roque Santa Cruz go in the same season. There's no way the club will let that happen."

The news will be a huge relief for Rovers boss Paul Ince, who was in a frustrated mood this morning after discovering Giovanni Trapattoni gave Steven Reid a full 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland in the midweek friendly against Norway.

Ince is just one game into his top-flight managerial career but already he is feeling the frustrations which some of his peers have often remarked on.

The former England midfielder had 10 players away on international duty this week.

"You can see why sometimes Premier League managers don't let their players go if they are going to start playing them for 90 minutes," said Ince.

"It's always a worry. You wonder if you'll come back with a half a team. I'm disappointed with some of the managers because they played some of my players for 90 minutes, as in (Andre) Ooijer, (Roque) Santa Cruz and (Steven) Reid."

Reid has struggled with injury in his last two years at Ewood Park but Trapattoni kept him on the pitch for the entire game in Oslo on Wednesday.

"I was very disappointed," added Ince. "I spoke to Reidy and he feels fine but that's not the point. He's had problems with his knees over the years.

"Morten (Gamst Pedersen) played 45 minutes (for Norway) and I haven't got a problem with that but when you start playing them for 90 minutes in a friendly I think is absolutely ridiculous.

"I can understand it if it's a World Cup qualifier but not a meaningless friendly. When it's a friendly I think you've got to show a bit of appreciation.

"The league has just started, they have had a hard pre-season and now I've got six players who have played three games in a week, which is unfair."

Ince is concerned that tomorrow's opponents Hull had just two international call-ups and he hopes the discrepancy does not have a bearing on the result in the Barclays Premier League match at Ewood Park.

He said: "You've seen it over the years, even with the biggest teams, that when players go away with their countries they struggle to perform on a Saturday and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen to us.

"Sometimes you can be selfish because they are your players, but you have got to show some appreciation for them for the Saturday and I think 45 minutes for a friendly is appropriate."

Blackburn and Hull both put winning starts on the line and Ince, who reported a clean bill of health from the internationals and has Brett Emerton available after injury, will be looking to mark his first home game as manager with another victory.

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