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By ESPN Staff
Sep 16, 2006

Roeder hails emergency left-back Duff

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder has paid tribute to the professionalism of Damien Duff after the winger solved a major defensive problem in Estonia.

The 27-year-old midfielder was pressed into service as an emergency left-back in Tallinn on Thursday night after Titus Bramble picked up an injury, and turned in an excellent display.

Duff, a £5million summer signing from Chelsea, will hope to return to his more accustomed role against West Ham tomorrow, but his versatility and character have proved major pluses for Roeder as he prepares to return to his former club.

The manager said: 'That just shows you how versatile Damien Duff is. I know he has played at left-back a number of times for Chelsea and done really, really well.

'When I asked him to go an play there, I was not asking him to have a new experience.

'He is such a good pro that whatever you ask him to do, he does it with a willingness that makes a manager's life a lot easier.

'That is one of the beauties of him, as well as the ability he has. He looked very comfortable because he is a good player on the ball.

'Teams who like to pass the ball or want to pass the ball must have good full-backs that can play, and Damien Duff certainly can play.

'But as far as being a long-term left-back, those days are quite a few seasons away, I would guess. He is not ready to drop back there yet on a regular basis.

'But as he proved, he can do the job. He had a big smile on his face after the game in the dressing room knowing he had done an excellent job for the team.'

Duff's change of role is a reflection of the problems Newcastle have at left-back with central defender Peter Ramage having started the last two games there because of Celestine Babayaro's hamstring problem and the returning Olivier Bernard's quest for match fitness.

Roeder revealed he was surprised to see how much weight, and as a result, power the 26-year-old Frenchman had lost during his spell with Rangers.

He said: 'The one thing that shocked me when I saw him - I tried to sign him when I was at West Ham and he was quite a thick-set, chunky lad, but the regime at Rangers made him lose an awful lot of weight.

'I think he has lost strength because of that. It has affected him physically in terms of his power. He has lost an amount power.

'But we will get that back. We will build him back up to be the shape of the Olivier Bernard we remember, not this slim, thin one that we have now.

'You can become too thin and lose your power and strength. There are a number of players, if you go back through the years, who were outstanding players even though they looked, if you want, a little bit chunky.'