Writer: Mike Field
Date:Wednesday February 6 2008
He hasn't stepped foot on a first team pitch yet, but Moustapha Salifou has had his contract extended.
Salifou has been making quite an impression in the reserves since joining from FC Wil last August and many fans believed he would have already made his full debut by now and getting a full 90 minutes.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, Martin O'Neill explained the decision to extend his one year deal despite his lack of first team regularity.
'We are taking him on for the extra season so he is here for another 18 months.
'He has been a wee bit unlucky because just when he was forcing his way in he hurt his knee again but he is okay now.
'He played for the reserves the other night and did fine and he has been playing very well.'
O'Neill has however dismissed rumours that Salifou will gain his full debut against Newcastle and that there will be wholescale changes to the team after the loss to Fulham.
'Can he make the step up?
'The step is all about someone coming in and having the confidence in that player to go an do it.
'Where I get irked is that on Sunday we went into the match on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run.
'Then because we have lost at Fulham and even though people in midfield might be playing well, it suddenly becomes 'Salifou is playing really well'.
'I used to be a miles better player when I was not playing. Honestly, it was great. I used to get a better reputation when I wasn't playing than I did and was rubbish.'
O'Neill also hasn't ruled out the option of sending Salifou on a months loan to get him a good run of matches and experience:
'He is one who is itching to play competitive football.
'It would be great if it was with us.
'In an ideal world I would like to get boys out (on loan) and maybe give them that 28 days as we now have a week coming when we don't have a game.
'We have picked up an injury to Gabby Agbonlahor and we have to see how Curtis Davies is. It puts things on hold again.'
The Togolese Zidane is sure to get a proper run soon, especially as we were unable to strengthen in January. We are already a few injuries down and we have players walking the yellow card tightrope, so spaces will open in midfield sooner rather than later.
The only real question is suspect is whether he does get a taste elsewhere first.
Date:Wednesday February 6 2008
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