Blackburn news

Kean backs Yakubu to claim 20 goals

December 10, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean has backed in-form striker Yakubu to become the first player to score 20 Premier League goals for the club in a season since Alan Shearer in 1996.

Blackburn's four-goal hero Yakubu fraternises with the enemy; manager Steve Kean
GettyImagesYakubu's most prolific season so far in English football was in 2003-04 when he scored 16 for Portsmouth

Yakubu, 29, has already hit the back of the net nine times in eight starts in the league so far this campaign - including all four last weekend in the 4-2 victory over Swansea - and Rovers boss Kean says there is no reason why the Nigerian should not breach 20.

Roque Santa Cruz has come closest for Rovers, with 19 in the 2007-08 season, and Kean says the key will be to keep the service to Yakubu going and make sure the 29-year-old remains fit.

Kean said: "Any top striker thrives on good service. He has an eye for goal and he's in a position now when he gets any chance he expects to score. Last week he had five chances and scored four and was a couple of inches away from the fifth which would have been fantastic.

"If we can keep him fit there is no reason why he can't get those 20 goals in the season. It's not a case of him thinking 'I could be in here' - he just expects to see the net bulge every time he has a shot.

"I don't think it is a surprise how well he has done. Look back on his stats and as long as you keep him fit and on the pitch his returns are there to see. He has been breath of a fresh air for us.

"He does his work where you want him to, in the box. I don't want him to chase into corners from the half-way line I would prefer him to conserve his energy.''

Yakubu is already being viewed as the bargain buy of last summer after he moved from Everton for a fee just over £1 million on the last day of the transfer window.

Kean resisted labelling his striker as such - pointing out that the signing of 24-year-old centre-back Scott Dann could prove to be equally important.

"The last day of the transfer window when he got Yakubu and Scott Dann we felt was very good business and they have both hit the ground running," Kean said.