Glenn: We Need To Avoid Injuries

Fredi Kanoute, Paolo Di Canio, Les Ferdinand, Tomas Repka, and Nigel Winterburn all return to the squad for the game with Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday night, with Glenn Roeder praying that he can avoid injury problems from now until the end of the season.

Paolo has scored six Premiership goals this season but last played on December 2nd, and Fredi, scorer of two but with only one game since September 28th, make a welcome return - indeed the pair have only started two games together this season.

But, added to competition for places up front is Les Ferdinand - described wrongly by one newspaper this week as on loan when of course he is signed on a permanent short term contract - who will make his home debut after being ineligible for the trip to Old Trafford.

Tomas returns to the side from suspension while Nigel Winterburn, rested on Sunday, is restored to the starting line-up.

All of which means the players on the bench will, for the first time for a long time, be comprised of experienced senior professionals.

"The key thing now, without doubt, is keeping this squad fully fit, because there is certainly pressure on places in the front part of the team," says Glenn.

"There are four quality strikers we need to keep fit, there are plenty of options with two big guys and two smaller guys.

"If they stay fit there is balance up there and I think there are goals in the front part of the team. I also think scoring opportunities can be created by the midfield players we have got.

"We need to find a formula defensively that can get us through the next 14 games - and if we do that we have to be very confident we can achieve.

"We are looking at 14 massive games for the football club, for the players, for me, and everybody - they are big, big games."

He is looking on players now to use the pressure of the remaining games to their advantage, and adds:

"I have always believed that the big players play well under the most pressure - the bigger the pressure the more the big players come to the fore - and actually revel in it.

"I maintain, and it never quite happened in Italia '90 when England got to the semi-final of the World Cup - unfortunately England didn't get to the final and Paul Gascgoine would have been suspended for it anyway - that he would have been outstanding because he was a big game player - the bigger the game, the better he played.

"You have only got to look at the semi-final of the FA Cup when he was with Tottenham when, 30 days after a double hernia, he produced a free kick that big David Seaman never saw, and for the 65 minutes he was on he ran the game.

"That little bit of fear is the sort that brings the best out of the best players."

Blackburn will be without David Dunn (hamstring) and Craig Short (calf), who picked up their injuries in the 3-3 draw with Sunderland on Saturday, so John Curtis has been called into their travelling party.

Squad: James, Van der Gouw, Forde, Breen, Dailly, Bowyer, Schemmel, Minto, Sinclair, Lomas, Kanoute, Carrick, Cole, Defoe, Pearce, Johnson, Hutchison, Winterburn, Repka, Cisse, Di Canio, L Ferdinand.