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Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Savage sees positive future for doomed Derby

Midfielder Robbie Savage is set to join Derby's relegation battle within the next 24 hours, but even if the club do not survive the former Wales international believes they will make a swift return to the Premier League.

The 33-year-old has held positive talks with Rams boss Paul Jewell after finding his opportunities limited at Blackburn, who have agreed a fee for the player.

Savage was also linked with Sunderland, another side fighting to avoid the drop, but he has been impressed with what Derby have to offer.

Just like when Jewell surprisingly accepted the job, Savage appears to view the task at Pride Park as a long-term project.

'If they do go down they are looking to bounce back up. It is a proper football club like Blackburn is,' said the midfielder ahead of his expected return to the midlands.

'I had some great times with Leicester and Birmingham and if I am half as successful here as I was there I will be happy.'

Knee surgery in October put Savage out for six weeks and he has struggled to regain his place in the Rovers line-up on his return.

He said the lure of regular first-team football had attracted him to Derby.

'I have spoken to the manager (Jewell) and it is a well-known fact that I wanted first-team football and Paul said I would get that here,' he told Sky Sports News.

'I am sure I can do well for Derby if I sign. But I have huge respect for Mark Hughes and Blackburn chairman John Williams, they have been fantastic.

'I have only good things to say about Blackburn and I wish them all success and hope they can get a European place.'

Tottenham midfielder Hossam Ghaly is also expected to move to Derby while yesterday the club finalised the signings of Argentinian striker Emanuel Villa - who also holds Spanish nationality - after he received international clearance following his move from UAG Tecos and free agent Laurent Robert.

The controversial French winger, who spent four years at Newcastle and six months at Portsmouth before joining Benfica two years ago, had been without a club since leaving Levante in November.

However, he jumped at the chance to return to England.

'The Derby manager called my agent to say he wanted me and I came quickly because the quality and the atmosphere in the Premier League is the best in the world,' the 32-year old told the club's website, www.dcfc.co.uk.

'The club's position here is a bit difficult but I'm here to put my experience in and work hard - that's it.'

Despite Robert's reputation Jewell had no qualms about signing him.

'His ability is unquestioned and I think this could be a really good bit of business for us,' said the Rams boss. 'Laurent's key quality is what he can do with the ball - he can unlock the door, make things happen and produce a bit of magic.'




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