Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
Ernst Middendorp. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

Port Elizabeth — Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp remains hopeful the contractual dispute between midfielder Pule Ekstein and the club will be resolved swiftly so the player can be considered for selection in the remaining matches of the season.

Contract extension negotiations appear to have reached a deadlock and Ekstein missed the club’s last two matches.

The player did not feature in the recent league match against Black Leopards and in the Nedbank Cup semifinal against Chippa United on Saturday.

Middendorp urged the club to resolve whatever obstacles that may have led to one of his favourite players being sidelined.

Asked to confirm Ekstein’s whereabouts after Chiefs beat Chippa‚ Middendorp said: “I haven’t seen him today too.”

Probed further on whether he was missing because of an injury‚ the Chiefs coach said: “No‚ no‚ no‚ he is an asset of Kaizer Chiefs.

“You know sometimes players are busy with private issues‚ busy with certain circumstances. If they can be made responsible for it or not‚ I don’t know actually.

“He is a very important player in the squad and deserves to play like every player who is 100% committed and directed and shows it on the training ground [he must play].

Ekstein’s form has improved immensely since Middendorp’s return to Chiefs in December and the midfielder underlined it with a superb performance in the club’s 2-0 win against Cape Town City in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup‚ capping the display  with a goal.

Ekstein was reported to have rejected a new two-year contract offered by Chiefs as he felt it came short of his expectations. The player has been encouraged by his teammates‚ including veteran striker Bernard Parker‚ to renew his contract with Amakhosi.

But having scored only one league goal and produced one assist in 18 appearances this season‚ perhaps the  midfielder should listen to Parker and others and renew his contract at Chiefs.