Uefa Cup previews

Fowler waits in wings
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The Independent Football



Robbie Fowler will sit on the bench tonight for Liverpool's return to Europe, knowing a chance to play awaits him if he can prove his fitness.

Liverpool face Rapid Bucharest in the Uefa Cup, with a host of top names left at home. Steven Gerrard, with a recurrence of his groin injury, Titi Camara, Vladimir Smicer (hamstring), Patrik Berger (knee) and Sami Hyypia (leg), were all left on Merseyside.

However, Fowler, having played 60 minutes of a practice match on Monday, was considered fit to travel, as was Gary McAllister, who is banned from domestic football but can play in Europe. Defenders Christian Ziege and Vegard Heggem also played in Monday's behind-closed-doors friendly.

Rapid Bucharest's coach, Anghel Iordanescu, is planning special tactics to try to stop Michael Owen. "He is the No 1 danger for us and we've tried to plan special measures to temper his actions," the former Romanian national coach said. The international defender Adrian Iencsi is expected to mark the Liverpool striker.

About 730 police will be on duty to prevent trouble - Rapid fans have a reputation as the worst troublemakers in Romanian football.

Berkovic's mauling by Lion


As Celtic prepare to face HJK Helsinki tonight, Jimmy Johnstone, one of the club's most famous names, has told Eyal Berkovic that he should pack his bags and quit Parkhead unless he is willing to change his attitude.

Johnstone, the Lisbon Lion who dazzled with his wizardry on the wing, believes the Israeli also has the skill to be a favourite at the club even though it seems that the Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, is willing to let him go to Blackburn Rovers.

"It depends what is happening inside and how he is feeling," Johnstone said. "He's definitely got the talent for it. I think he'll get a fair crack of the whip from Martin O'Neill, but he has to show he wants to be there and he needs an attitude change. The manager can't play every one of them and it's difficult to get in the side when they are playing well."

Johnstone feels Berkovic, on the sidelines because of the brilliant form of Lubo Moravcik, should take a lead from the striker Tommy Johnson, who has remained patient despite spending most of the time on the bench.

Taylor's Red Star riposte


The Leicester City manager, Peter Taylor, believes his players will be in the right frame of mind to deal with a Red Star Belgrade backlash in tonight's Uefa Cup first round, first leg tie at Filbert Street

Red Star will have a point to prove after losing their fight to stage the second leg in Belgrade and Taylor is prepared for an angry response.

"I don't know how Red Star are going to react," he said. "They still have to go out and perform for 90 minutes and if they are not disciplined then we hope we can take advantage."

Taylor also confessed that Uefa's decision has helped settle his team: "Now they can have their minds occupied solely with the first leg and there's no reason why we can't beat Red Star because we are good enough."

Leicester's only injury doubt is the midfielder Neil Lennon, who will have a fitness test on a shoulder injury today. Stan Collymore is also in contention for a place in the starting line-up even though he is still not fully fit after an Achilles injury.

Jefferies angered by Ibrox


The Hearts manager, Jim Jefferies, admits he is disappointed by Rangers' decision not to postpone Sunday's Scottish Premier League game at Ibrox.

Jefferies' team unable to return from their Uefa Cup first round, first-leg tie in Stuttgart until tomorrow due to flight restrictions.

Hearts had hoped Rangers would agree to their request after the Edinburgh club agreed to help out their Ibrox rivals last season.

Hearts agreed to put back an SPL fixture for two months when Rangers needed time to recover from a Champions' League game against PSV Eindhoven last October.

Several key players are doubtful for the game in Germany. Steve Fulton is out with a thigh injury and Jefferies will make a late decision on the striker Gary McSwegan, who suffered an ankle injury in training on Tuesday.

Gordan Petric and Lee Makel are fit, while Gary Locke and Scott Severin are rated doubtful.

The Brazilian central defender Marcello Bordon is missing but Krasimir Balakov is fit for Stuttgart.