Has Pre-season Transformed Duff's Career?

Last updated : 11 August 2008 By Footy Mad - Editor
Kevin Keegan wants to rebuild Alan Smith's shattered confidence, and he says he should learn from the former Chelsea winger.

Smith is believed to be on the verge of a £3m move to Everton, much to the displeasure of the 30,000-plus fans who attended Saturday's friendly with Valencia.

Keegan: "He looked like he could run forever against Valencia and the goal he scored was probably not the sort of goal you associate with Damien Duff, a great towering header, really attacking the ball.

"His fitness level is fantastic, he's really, really trained hard and I've just said to him, 'You're now getting the reward for your training out on the pitch'.
There's a chance with two or three players here that if we get them back where they should be fitness-wise, we'll have two or three new players within our squad.

"(Under other circumstances) you could be saying the same thing about Damien Duff at this point.

"You're just two or three games away from turning everything around in football. Duffer's had a good pre-season, scored three goals at Hartlepool, another against Valencia and played very well. The solution is always mainly in the player's hands and the manager helps. That's what I'll be doing with Alan Smith, as with any player who has had a problem with confidence or goes through a spell where they've not been playing much. That's our job. We can do that.

"I'm not going to try and tell this crowd what to do.

"It's a very knowledgeable crowd. I'm not going to tell them what they should see. I know one thing - it's my job to see the good things and there's a lot of them.

"I definitely think there's a lot more to come from Alan.

"He's got a lot of desire. If he didn't have any desire I'd say you're wasting your time. I've known lots of players turn themselves around, I know Alan will. Alan Smith is a Newcastle player and that's it. What happens in the future, you'll be the first to know."