Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benjani's Ready to Play Part; Cats New Boy Relishes Challenge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benjani's Ready to Play Part; Cats New Boy Relishes Challenge

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

BENJANI has promised he is fit and ready to make up for lost time after his two years of frustration at Manchester City. The only two full games the Zimbabwe captain has played this season were in the FA Cup, although he scored the winner in the first of them against Middlesbrough.

Other than that, injury and City's embarrassment of riches restricted him to three substitute appearances and a Premier League start.

However, Benjani (pictured right with Eric Black) is adamant he is over the thigh problem which saw him go 13 months without kicking off a league game until last month.

He said: "I am ready to play. I have been injured for a long time but I recovered well. I did not have a chance to play (at) Manchester City. Here, hopefully I will be given the time to play."

His inactivity at Eastlands - where the 31-year-old started just 21 league games in two years - was Benjani's main motivation in leaving five months before his contract expired.

He added: "Now I have a chance to play regularly. The season for them (City) is okay, but not so much for me. It was not okay because I have not been playing. As a player you need to play."

For a while on Monday it looked as if the striker might not get his wish. For each of the last three years, deals have been completed outside of the January transfer window and in two of them, Benjani's moves have been the reason.

The deals which saw him join City from Portsmouth to fund Jermain Defoe's move to the south coast from Tottenham Hotspur were the big controversy of the January 2008 window.

Pompey were unable to file the relevant paperwork because of the Zimbabwean's late arrival in Manchester. Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie explained the striker missed two planes by "falling asleep at the airport".

The transfer was completed five days late after the Premier League was satisfied the documentation had been completed in time. …

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