Blackburn boss Hughes: Friedel in Schmeichel class

Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes won't hear of retirement talk for his veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

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The former United States goalkeeper, 37 in May, saved a crucial spot kick from Steve Howard to steer Blackburn back on the winning trail in Sunday's 2-1 victory at bottom club Derby.

Friedel will face Sunderland tonight at Ewood Park in his 135th consecutive Barclays Premier League appearance and manager Hughes said: "He has done it over a long period of time.

"There are a lot of guys who shine brightly for a short period of time and get a lot of publicity, and then you don't hear about them for two or three seasons.

"But Brad has consistently been at the top of his trade for seven years, and that is credit to him."

Former Wales and Manchester United striker Hughes added: "He is right up there with anybody else I have worked with. I played with Neville Southall, Peter Schmeichel, and many other top keepers."

Southall memorably turned out at 41 for Bradford City in a Premier League derby with Leeds in 2000.

Hughes said: "It's up to Brad how long he goes on for. At some point his powers will diminish, that's what age does to you. But if you prepare properly and give yourself a chance, you can have longevity."

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