Savage agrees new Blackburn contract

December 30, 2006

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes celebrated three more priceless Premiership points by revealing Robbie Savage has agreed to sign a one-year extension to his Rovers contract.

Savage played a crucial role in securing back-to-back Ewood Park victories by lofting in the cross from which Benni McCarthy headed his sided's 74th-minute winner against Middlesbrough.

And next week the 32-year-old Welshman, who signed for £3million from Birmingham last year, will put pen to paper on a new deal which will keep him at Ewood Park until 2009.

Hughes said: 'Robbie deserved the extension because he has been playing arguably the best football since he has been at the club and he is a big influence both on the field and off it.'

Hughes expressed his delight with the form of his two front men, with McCarthy adding to his Boxing Day winner over Liverpool and Shabani Nonda also firing his third goal of the festive period.

Hughes added: 'I thought the goals were great. Shabani's was a great finish and they both played very well today. They worked hard for the cause and showed their skills in crucial areas.'

Dismal conditions had threatened to leave the game in doubt with standing water appearing on both flanks but Hughes praised his side for showing the fighting spirit required to get the win.

He added: 'It was difficult to play our normal game today and we had to battle through. In the end I think we deserved it and we could have won more handsomely in the end.

'We have now got four wins out of five and that is a decent run. It is very similar to the run we had last season when we went on to have a better second half of the season, so hopefully we will kick on.'

Dejected Boro boss Gareth Southgate refused to blame the soggy conditions for a defeat which leaves his side heading into Monday's crucial clash with Sheffield United hovering above the drop zone.

Instead he pointed his finger at his defence whose recent fine form evaporated as they allowed both McCarthy and Nonda to keep the home side in the ascendency.

Southgate said: 'We gave two poor goals away on the day. We have defended well for the past 10 or 12 weeks and it has been a strong point for us.

'Today there is no question it was difficult conditions for defenders but we did not do enough in the first half to win the game, and in the second half we threw it away a bit.'

Southgate was particularly disappointed with the timing of McCarthy's winner coming at the end of Boro's best spell of the match following Aiyegbeni Yakubu's penalty equaliser.

He added: 'For 20 minutes of the second half we were stronger and it looked like we had got a bit of momentum. But when we looked like the likely winners we conceded a goal, and I am bitterly disappointed about that.'