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Samba shuffle no shock to the Boss

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

Nevermind the Blues' boys from Brazil, Robinho and Elano ... Blackburn Rovers will be moving to their own Samba beat on Saturday afternoon at the City of Manchester Stadium, and it's all down to Mark Hughes.

Chris Samba rates as one of the City manager's best value-for-money signings during a four-year spell in charge at Ewood Park that also landed Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz at bargain-basement prices.

Now the man-mountain centre half, a Congo international defender, has become an emergency striker for Blackburn and played a major role in the 2-0 victory over Wigan last weekend that eased Rovers' relegation fears.

Both Samba's goals this season came when he was playing in Rovers' defence, but Blues boss Hughes knows his makeshift partnership up front with South Africa ace McCarthy is likely to present a few problems for Richard Dunne & Co.

City's manager said: "I knew he could play as a striker. I got him from Hertha Berlin for about £400,000 - he wanted to leave because he was on the bench. They would put him on up front whenever they were chasing the game.

"He's certainly got knowledge of that role, but his best position is as a centre-back, and he was outstanding there in my time at Blackburn.

"He is very good with his feet for such a big guy, and as we have seen in recent weeks, he will throw his head at it. He is quick enough as well - he is a good player."

Samba was a thorn in Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland's side at corners, and Hughes acknowledges that Rovers manager Sam Allardyce will be employing a down-to-earth style to help make sure of his team's survival.

Hughes said: "Sam has always placed a high priority on set-plays and getting the ball into key areas of the field as quickly as possible by bypassing midfield.
 
"That has been successful for him in the past, and you could say that since he has been at Blackburn. It was crucial for them to beat Wigan and they did that via good delivery as well as players determined to get on the end of things in the opposition's box.

"That is an area of the game that you have to highlight against teams that place significance on it, though of course we do not have many guys over six feet. You have to make sure you get first contact at set plays."

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Elano Blumer training 0809

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Shaun Wright Phillips 0809

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