Souness plays down Turkish hostilities

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The Independent Football

Blackburn's Uefa Cup campaign kicks off just 17 days before England face Turkey in Istanbul in a potentially volatile Euro 2004 qualifier. But Graeme Souness, who was in charge of Turkish side Galatasaray from 1995-96, believes his side have little to fear either on or off the field when they face Genclerbirligi today.

"I don't see it being a hostile atmosphere at our game," the Blackburn manager said. "This is not one of the better supported clubs in Turkey. It is not one of the big teams. It is not Istanbul. This is different. I see it as a game my players will gain experience from."

Central defender Lorenzo Amoruso is expected to face the Turkish side despite needing stitches in his head following Saturday's win at Portsmouth. Midfielder Steve Reid is also available after missing the game through suspension, but Barry Ferguson is ineligible as he played for Rangers in the Champions' League. Tugay will captain the team on his return to Turkey after Garry Flitcroft was ruled out with a back injury.

Ersun Yanal's Genclerbirligi come into the tie full of confidence having beaten Konyaspor 4-0 on Saturday but Souness remains confident. "They got a good result on Saturday but I think we can go and get a result that will enable us to go through to the second round."