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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Dowie challenges Rommedahl to prove worth

Charlton manager Iain Dowie has challenged Dennis Rommedahl to prove he is one of the Premiership's most dangerous wingers - and there might just be a new contract in it for him if he does.

Rommedahl, whose current deal expires next summer, was frustratingly inconsistent under former Addicks boss Alan Curbishley.

But Dowie is ready to give the Danish international free rein in order to get the best out of him every week.

'I think he is one of those players that when you see him on the day you think he can be electric. We are looking for that on a consistent basis,' said Dowie.

'If Dennis continues to show the form he did last week against Chelsea then there is no question that he is a real asset to any team.

'He has got blistering pace and he gets a goal. It is just a case of producing that week in, week out.

'You need to play Dennis a certain way. You need to give him a bit of freedom to attack and not maybe shackle him as much. It is difficult for us managers because we like to have both sides of the game.

'But I think if you shackle him too much and tie him down too much you lose his effect.

'I've always said that if you like the flair-type players you have to make them work. If you feed them enough of the ball then you are going to get work out of him. Last week he did that very well.'

But Dowie insists Rommedahl has to be motivated by a desire to reach his potential - and not by the carrot of earning a new deal at the end of the season.

'You've got to have that desire to be the best you can be - whether your contract is up or you've got five years left,' said Dowie.

'The best players in the world have got that. Paul Scholes turns up week in, week out and you never hear a peep from him about what his contract situation is and he is eight or nine out of 10 every week.

'That is why he is the top level. You have to focus on improving yourself rather than just on contracts.'

Injuries have been a constant source of frustration for Dowie since he took over at Charlton.

New arrivals Souleymane Diawara, Djimi Traore and Andy Reid were all injured against Chelsea and miss Saturday's game against Portsmouth.

Dowie is also missing Jerome Thomas (metatarsal), Gonzalo Sorondo (back), Cory Gibbs (knee) and Jonathan Fortune (toe) while Hermann Hreidarsson still has two more games of a three-match suspension to serve.

'It is very disappointing because we pride ourselves on covering every base,' said Dowie.

'We bring in lads a bit late and they haven't done the same (pre-season training) and they both pick up muscular injuries.

'Djimi's you can't do nothing about, he took a knock and unfortunately he has got a hairline fracture.

'It was disappointing to lose £8million worth of talent. Add to that Jon Fortune's toe and Sorondo's back fracture and it is a bizarre one.

'We've got a few problems but we'll get on with it - we'll go into the game being positive because that is all we've got left.'