Bruce hopes to keep Heskey
Steve Bruce has not given up hope of persuading Emile Heskey to sign a new contract at Wigan.
Last Updated: 17/10/08 1:19pm
Steve Bruce insists he has not given up hope of persuading Emile Heskey to sign a new contract at Wigan Athletic.
Heskey's current deal expires at the end of the season and he has put a decision on his future at the JJB Stadium on the back-burner.
He has been linked with former club Liverpool, along with Aston Villa, after admitting he would relish the chance to play UEFA Champions League football again.
However, after re-establishing himself as a starter in the England team, Wigan boss Bruce hopes that Heskey will see the sense in signing a new deal.
"We all know that he is out of contract at the end of the season, but he doesn't owe this club, in my opinion, a penny because he's justified why he's been here," said Bruce on Sky Sports News.
"He's been a talisman. Before I came here, when they beat Sheffield United in that game (on the final day of the 2006/07 season), in particular, I was watching from afar and Emile Heskey gave an unbelievable performance and almost single-handedly kept the club in the Premier League.
"He doesn't owe the club anything, but we still hope, and I'm not giving up hope, that we can persuade him (to stay).
"He's well liked and respected here. He plays every week to his strengths and I've not given up hope because you hear all these reports that he's going to clear off, but we'll try our best to try and keep him if we can."
Bruce accepts Heskey has the right to decide his future, but feels the 30-year-old's prospects of playing at the 2010 World Cup could be best served by staying at Wigan.
World Cup focus
He added: "I think we've got to respect that players have got this prerogative now to keep their options open and we have to abide by that.
"I wish he had 18 months left, but he hasn't, he's got to the end of the season, but as I said we've not given up hope that we can try and convince him.
"I think Emile will be focused on that he has got himself back in the England team and if he can go to the World Cup in 2010. He might probably think, 'Right, what is the best thing for me to get the best out of myself to go to the World Cup finals and keep producing the form I'm producing at the moment?'
"I've not given up hope that we can try and offer a deal that he can stay here and fulfil all that he wants to do."