Football: Fitness battle for Bergkamp

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL ARE banking on Dennis Bergkamp's return as they strive for their first home win over Blackburn Rovers in five years tonight.

Victory would lift the Gunners to within a point of the Premiership leaders, Manchester United, but Blackburn have important priorities of their own in their struggle to stay in the top division.

The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, who was furious to see Bergkamp and Marc Overmars return unfit from the Netherlands' friendly against Argentina last Wednesday and ruled out of the draw at Southampton on Saturday, still has a doubt about Overmars, who is suffering with infected blisters on both feet.

There is also a slight worry over Martin Keown, who came off before the final whistle at The Dell with an ankle strain, although all three players have returned to training.

Emmanuel Petit is suspended for the game and possible deputies Remi Garde and Stephen Hughes are still recovering from injuries.

Lee Carsley could make his first full appearance for Rovers after he came on as a second-half substitute in the draw against Middlesbrough on Saturday. The pounds 3.3m signing from Derby could replace Dario Marcolin in midfield.

In tonight's other Premiership match, Leicester City entertain Aston Villa with manager Martin O'Neill insisting that a European place is not yet out of reach for his side.

"The players were in the dressing-room after the Tottenham game on Saturday saying only a few more points for safety but I told them, `We've got nine matches still to go - we're going to think about Europe'," O'Neill said.

Muzzy Izzet is Leicester's main injury doubt - the midfielder had to be substituted on Saturday after pulling a hamstring. Charlie Miller, City's deadline-day loan signing from Rangers, could make his debut.

Steve Walsh, the club captain, is also rated doubtful after missing the trip to White Hart Lane with an ankle injury while Gerry Taggart is battling against flu.

Aston Villa's England Under-21 international, Lee Hendrie, will return after serving a one-match suspension in the drawn game with West Ham on Friday.

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