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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 11 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 9, 2007

Striker Johnson set to return for Everton

Everton expect to have Andrew Johnson leading their attack at home to Blackburn despite the striker's withdrawal from England's squad this week.

Johnson made a surprise return for Everton in last weekend's 0-0 Merseyside derby draw at Liverpool, having had only a couple of weeks to get over the ankle damage sustained at Wigan that looked likely to keep him out for a month.

But Johnson aggravated that same injury at Anfield, where he missed the one golden chance Everton had to produce a shock victory at the home of their closest neighbours.

Withdrawal from England's squad swiftly followed, but Johnson should be able to play against Blackburn as Everton attempt to gain revenge for their embarrassing FA Cup defeat at the hands of the Ewood Park club.

Johnson clearly needed treatment this week and not an involvement with England, and Everton physio Mick Rathbone said: 'He did really well just to play against Liverpool.

'His ankle was sore on Sunday and the England medical team agreed that it would be better if he rested.'

Everton's need is greater than England's.

They are four points adrift of sixth spot in the Premier League, a finishing position that will now ensure European qualification following Chelsea and Arsenal's progress to the Carling Cup final and their expected qualification for the Champions League, which frees up another UEFA Cup spot.

But Everton skipper Phil Neville believes all talk of Europe will be pointless if they do not build on the battling performance that produced a draw at Anfield.

Neville said: 'It means nothing if we do not follow it up with a win against Blackburn.

'We have to set ourselves targets and we want to every home game from now until the end of the season.

'We have to get ourselves right back in the hunt for a top six finish, and we all remember the dark moment we had when Blackburn won at Goodison Park in the cup.

'This club needs to keep progressing, and a UEFA Cup spot is the next stage.'

Everton boss David Moyes would seem likely to field an unchanged side against Blackburn, although Portuguese loan player Manuel Fernandes, who scored for his country's under-21s in midweek, can expect to make his debut at some stage during the Blackburn game.