Pedersen relishes role as Rovers' lucky charm

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The Independent Football

Morten Gamst Pedersen may have earned his place in Blackburn folklore with a sensational winning goal against bitter local rivals Burnley on Tuesday night, but the Norway midfielder has loftier ambitions.

Morten Gamst Pedersen may have earned his place in Blackburn folklore with a sensational winning goal against bitter local rivals Burnley on Tuesday night, but the Norway midfielder has loftier ambitions.

The 23-year-old has become Blackburn's talisman in the FA Cup this season and, with Rovers enjoying the luck of the draw - yet another lower-division side, Leicester City, are their quarter-final opponents - the prospect of at least a semi-final appearance is now a very real one.

Pedersen has emerged as an unpredictable and exciting talent this season and has been hugely influential in Blackburn's FA Cup run, with three goals in five games plus a couple of assists.

"It felt really special to score the winning goal," Pedersen said. "But I hope that's not all I'll be remembered for by the fans. I still hope I've got plenty more to achieve here and I'm excited by the future.

"I'd heard a lot about the derbies and I knew that Blackburn and Burnley were big, big rivals so it was good to win. But it's not just down to me, it's the rest of the team as well. You can't just give one person all the glory. It's a team game and there were 10 other people out there. We win together and we lose together."

Before the match, Pedersen phoned his old school football coach in Norway, Rolf Aren Hansen, who is a Burnley supporter.

"I spoke to him before the game and he was hoping that Burnley would win but he said if that wasn't possible then he hoped I'd score the winner," Pedersen said. "That's the only way he said he would be happy to see a Blackburn win."

Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, accepts that his side now have a great opportunity to progress to what would be the club's first FA Cup semi-final for 45 years - but has warned his players they need to step up a gear.

"We will have to play much better than we did against Burnley - I thought our level of performance was down from what it has been for most of this season," Hughes said. "Thankfully Morten popped up again - he has been fantastic since he has come into the side and has made an impact in almost every game he has played.

"He gives us variation because he can play on the left, switch flanks or play through the middle so we are grateful for that. He found it a little bit difficult when he first came - he's a young man in a different country and was living out of his suitcase but he has settled down now and we are reaping the benefits.

"He's a bit of a lucky charm for us - he scored in his first game against Cardiff and did so well against Colchester."

Hughes has new injury problems to contend with, as Robbie Savage was taken off after his groin problem flared up while Jay Bothroyd is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a thigh injury.

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