Football: Kenna Keeps Faith as Purse Surveys a Clouded Future

The Birmingham Post (England), January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Football: Kenna Keeps Faith as Purse Surveys a Clouded Future


Byline: Ged Scott

Birmingham City defenders Jeff Kenna and Darren Purse were key members of the Birmingham City side that won promotion just 19 months ago.

But both head into 2004 knowing that a big decision will have to be taken over their respective futures, having both lost their first team places this season.

While the two are likely to find themselves moving on sooner rather than later, it is the older of the pair, former Blues captain Kenna, who ironically appears to have the brighter short term future.

Things did not look hopeful for 33year-old Kenna when he lost his place at right back to Damien Johnson in mid-autumn.

But, having been handed a surprise recall when Blues lost 4-0 at home to his old club Blackburn Rovers in early December, Kenna has taken his chance well.

Not only has he impressed, he even popped up with a rare goal, his first in 13 months, to help Blues turn round their 2-1 Boxing Day win over Manchester City. And he then showed his stuff at the other end two days later with a marvellous goal-line clearance to deny Everton's Duncan Ferguson.

Manager Steve Bruce is aware that the simple matter of 'Anno Domini' is against the manwho skippered Blues into the Premiership, but he cannot hide his pleasure at how well Kenna has bounced back.

'He's been a great pro since he came,' said Bruce. 'He only missed one game last year.

'And I just wish he was 26 or 27 again. 'I'll obviously be looking to replace him eventually, as even he knows he's coming to the end of his career. And he'd say he was unfairly left out of the team. It was a decision which I made at the time that I believe was right, but he's earning his corn.

'And, if he keeps performing like he has been, then I couldn't give a monkey's about his age. He'll stay in the team.' Kenna will again expect to line up this Saturday against Blackburn, the team with whom he won a league championship medal nine seasons ago, as Blues bid for revenge for that embarrassing league defeat a month ago. But what the future holds for him will not be decided until Blues are officially safe. …

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