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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Roberts aims for redemption in UEFA Cup tie

Jason Roberts is aiming to put four months of hurt behind him tonight and help Blackburn's UEFA Cup campaign.

The former Wigan striker has played only 60 minutes in the competition, after fracturing his fifth metatarsal.

It is a situation he is keen to address, starting against Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the round of 32 in Germany.

Roberts, 29, said: 'I have been frustrated at missing out. One of the big reasons I joined Blackburn was to play in the UEFA Cup.

'Fitness-wise I feel good, although maybe I am not as sharp as I would like to be.

'What is important now is giving the manager another option and trying and get back in the side.'

During his absence, which began in October, Blackburn have gone on to win their group without losing a game.

Roberts said: 'The UEFA Cup is important to us and something we want to win.

'It is a different challenge, and you always want to challenge yourself in football.

'But we will have to play well to get something against Leverkusen. They are a good side and have achieved big things in the past.'

It is still touch and go as to whether David Dunn will be fit to face Leverkusen.

The former Birmingham midfielder took part in training last night at the BayArena, by himself and also with the group.

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes will monitor the midfielder's fitness in the hours leading up to the match, after he took a bang on the hip during the defeat by Everton at the weekend.

He said: 'David joined in training at the end but he is still a little bit sore and a little bit restricted. But we hope he will be an option for us.'

Stephen Warnock is eligible for the match even though he played in the Champions League for Liverpool, while Stephane Henchoz could make his first appearance in the competition.

Hughes believes Blackburn can lift the UEFA Cup - because the Premiership is such a strong league.

He has taken confidence from his side winning their group without losing a game.

'We feel we have a real opportunity to win the competition,' said the Rovers boss.

'You always need a bit of luck, but we have not faced anyone we've had a real problem with.

'That's because of the quality and strength of the league we play in - week in, week out.

'We have also grown from the experience of playing in the UEFA Cup, and our away form is good.'