Blackburn's Santa Cruz: Being injury-free key to form

Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz says he is now playing pain free for the first time in years.

The Paraguayan hitman, who has had a major impact during his first season in English football, claims he feels better now than at any point in the previous four years, because he is no longer suffering from the crippling knee pain that dogged his spell at Bayern Munich.

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However, since signing for Rovers, the 26-year-old has been virtually an ever-present in Mark Hughes' starting line-up, featuring in all but three of the 37 games he has been eligible for, and he is currently enjoying his most productive season ever, having found the net 15 times so far.

He told the : "Right now, I have no problems. I am pain free and just enjoying training and playing again.

"This season I have felt very good. Playing injury free has been great. Most players always feel a little bit of something here and there, but when I've been playing I haven't felt anything, which is a relief (after the problems I had with injuries in Germany).

"That has given me the confidence that my body is healthy and reacting very well to something which it hasn't been used to.

"It is a relief for me to have such a season and I just hope I can keep it going now.

"My body is reacting very well and from game to game, it is actually getting better."

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