CHRIS HUGHTON has hailed the impact of Keith Fahey at Birmingham City and believes that the former St Pats man is finally getting the credit he deserves.
Fahey (right) managed to shrug off an injury and prove his fitness for Saturday's Championship clash with Middlesbrough, and Fahey proved his worth by scoring in a 3-0 win, a victory which puts Birmingham into the top four in the Championship table and on course for a place in the promotion play-offs.
It was Fahey's first goal since August and only his second of the season but former Ireland international Hughton is in no doubt about the importance of Fahey to the side.
"I think he will be one player in the team that perhaps doesn't get the credit.
"But as the season has gone on, if I look at the response from the supporters, there is more recognition that he has had a good season for us," said Hughton of Fahey.
"He's been a big player for me. He's really developed in that centre midfield role. I'm really pleased for him. I'm pleased he scored. He can add goals to his game because he is a good striker of the ball and it was a composed finish.
"Sometimes how you feel is a reflection of how you play. I look at Keith Fahey, the scorer of a really good goal -- this is somebody who we didn't know was going to be fit just three hours before the game.
"We had almost ruled him out on Friday. But we said we would give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance," added Hughton.
"He had his fitness test before the start of the game and he said yes he'll give it a go. He finished the game strong and you didn't see a tired looking team towards the end."
Fahey missed Ireland's Euro 2012 warm-up friendly against the Czech Republic last month due to injury but the 29-year-old is almost certain to make the squad for the finals.
He made eight appearances in the qualifying campaign -- seven as sub -- and scored the vital goal which gave Ireland a 1-0 win away to Armenia.