Berner arrival boosts Hughes

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The Independent Online

The Blackburn manager Mark Hughes believes his fourth and final capture of the January transfer window has left him a squad capable of emulating last season's late charge into a Uefa Cup spot.

Hughes landed the Switzerland defender Bruno Berner from FC Basle for "a small transfer fee" yesterday and the 29-year-old goes straight into the squad for the trip to Chelsea tonight.

Berner joins Stephen Warnock, David Dunn and Chris Samba as Ewood Park new boys and Hughes said: "I believe we are now a stronger squad than we were at the start of the transfer window.

"We are in the top 10 and it is important we stay there. There is no reason why we can't establish ourselves then towards the end of the season have a real go at trying to get back into Europe."

Berner, who has landed an 18-month deal with the option of a further year, is expected to provide competition for the likes of Warnock through his versatility down the left flank.

Rovers romped to an FA Cup fourth-round victory at Luton last weekend but Hughes knows his side are up against it as they bid to get back to winning ways in the Premiership. Hughes does not buy into the crisis talk swirling around Stamford Bridge and rejects the suggestion that with John Terry still missing, now is as good a time as any to take on Jose Mourinho's men.

Hughes added: "They have still been able to win a significant amount of football matches. Even though some people are trying to say it is a crisis you have to say they are still a quality side."

Hughes is without the defender Andy Todd, who was not expected to travel after falling ill at the weekend, while Stephane Henchoz faces a late test on a niggling ankle complaint.

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