Hughes lauds Earnshaw
By Paul Higham. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Wales boss Mark Hughes lavished praise on hat-trick hero Robert Earnshaw, and backed him to make his mark at the highest level.
The Cardiff City marksman grabbed a treble to help sink Scotland 4-0 in their international friendly - to the delight of Hughes.
Wales had gone 11 months without a win in a run that had seen their Euro 2004 hopes slip away with a play-off defeat to Russia.
Earnshaw doubled his international tally with the hat-trick, and now has six goals in ten games for his country.
"Earnie was electric all night," beamed Hughes. "He is a young man still with room to improve, but if he keeps working hard he can be as good as he wants to be.
"Only Earnie can stop himself now, he has the talents to play and score at a higher level and hopefully he will get the chance of playing in the Premiership at Cardiff."
With plenty of top-flight managers eyeing the 22-year-old, he could well be on his way out of The Bluebirds should a sizeable offer come in for him.
With debts at Ninian Park running up at around £16 million, they may be forced to sacrifice their start striker to save themselves.
Hughes has no doubts that Earnshaw could cut it at the highest level - adding:
"He has the talent to go higher, we know that.
"And he also has the right mentality. He is very attentive and wants to learn. He listens when you pull him aside to tell him something, it is a trait that will stand him in good stead.
"His awareness of people around him has improved vastly since he has got into the Wales side. His link-up play now is outstanding."