Football: Duberry keen to impress in Moscow
Wednesday 24 November 1999
Duberry returns to the starting line-up for the first time since 11 September for tomorrow's Uefa Cup third-round, first-leg tie against Spartak Moscow. With their captain Lucas Radebe suspended after he received his third booking in the victory over Spartak's local rivals Lokomotiv three weeks ago, O'Leary has to turn to Duberry. The pounds 4.5m summer signing from Chelsea will be thrown in at the deep end against Russian champions despite making just one substitute appearance in over two months.
The imposing centre-back missed 10 matches with a thigh strain but is now 100 per cent fit and ready to stake his claim on a European stage where he has already been victorious. The 24-year-old has a winner's medal from Chelsea's CupWinners' Cup campaign in 1998 and sees no reason why he cannot add to that with Leeds.
"I'm looking forward to Moscow. It gives me a chance to hopefully step in and get things rolling again," said Duberry. "I had a good start when I first arrived. I felt I had done well when I was called upon and that I had done my job properly and I wanted to build on that. But then the injury came, and things happen for a reason, but during the course of the season I will prove my worth to this club.
"I've got my chance after a difficult time watching the team from the sidelines. But I'm happy here. I'm part of this squad now. I don't feel like I'm on the outside any more, even though these past couple of months have been frustrating. I've not regretted the move one bit, though, because I'm with one of the best clubs in the country and hopefully we can prove we're the best club in Europe."
Duberry played in just two games of Chelsea's European campaign last season which ultimately resulted in a semi-final defeat against Real Mallorca. But he has seen enough at Elland Road to be convinced Leeds can go all the way. "You've only got to look at the way we beat Lokomotiv [7-1 on aggregate] to give you some idea. We made them look ordinary," he said.
Duberry will immediately miss Sunday's Premiership clash at home to Southampton through suspension, although Radebe is set to return despite playing in a friendly for South Africa in Pretoria just 24 hours beforehand. Radebe is due to undertake a remarkable 6,000-mile round trip with a game against Sweden on Saturday before immediately flying back to Leeds in time to play against the Saints.
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