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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 1, 2007

Hughes delighted with Santa's presence

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes believes Roque Santa Cruz will make a big impact at Ewood Park because he is a team player.

Santa Cruz, 25, could have his first outing for the club in the friendly against Preston on Saturday following his £3.3million move from Bayern Munich.

He joins a squad rich in attacking talent with Benni McCarthy, Jason Roberts, Matt Derbyshire and Maceo Rigters also on the payroll.

Hughes expects the Paraguay international to rise to the challenge after eight years with the Bundesliga side.

He said: 'Signing Roque serves notice of our intent and I am delighted with the strength of our squad.

'He has always impressed me with his physical presence and his technical ability.

'But more than anything he has the desire to work hard for the team and that is a prerequisite if you want to play for us.

'Roque gives us something different and will help us. He is a top class centre-forward.

'You do not stay eight years at Bayern unless you are a bit special - and we are convinced he is.'

Santa Cruz's progress in Germany was hampered by a knee problem but Hughes is adamant that injury is in the past.

'When he has been fit and well he has been difficult for the opposition to handle,' said the Blackburn boss.

'He gets on the shoulders of defenders and shows great mobility.

'I am excited that he is here. We have got the right guy at the right price.'

Santa Cruz is determined to reignite his career in England after admitting he was going nowhere at Bayern.

He said: 'This is a new beginning and I want to play and show everyone the real me. I did not do that any more at Bayern. I will not miss anything.

'I am happy now at Blackburn. This is the place to be for me.'

About 200 supporters turned out to welcome Santa Cruz after he had completed his first training session with the club.

He was pleasantly surprised by the reception at the stadium.

Santa Cruz said: 'It is nice for people to come here and make me feel at home. I already feel very comfortable because Blackburn from the start always made me feel wanted.

'I was always looking at the possibility of coming to the Premier League.

'The main reason I have come to this club is because of the interest they showed in me.

'It did not feel like my first training session as I was made to feel so welcome.'