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Football: Heskey back for UEFA tie.

Byline: CHRIS BASCOMBE In Glasgow

LIVERPOOL boss Gerard Houllier today declared the mouth watering showdown with Celtic belongs in the Champions League.

The hype finally ends at Celtic Park with the Reds receiving a prematch boost with the surprise return to fitness of striker Emile Heskey (left) Heskey will make an instant return to the Liverpool starting line-up the Echo can reveal having proved his fitness in a late test on his injured hamstring last night. Houllier has decided to recall the powerful striker as he looks for the kind of solid display which has become the club's forte in Europe.

As kick-off approached the Reds boss said a fixture such as this was worthy of a European Cup clash.

Houllier said today: ``This game could have been a Champions League game. I wish it was.

``Both teams were very unlucky against Basle and that cost us. I suppose that's what we both have in common.

``I still think back to that game

and the number of attempts on goal we had and wonder how we didn't win.

``But this will be a great occasion and it is one I am really looking forward to.

``There is a real sense of excitement around the game. It should be a great night for the club and I'm sure the 3,000 fans we have inside the stadium will be singing as passionately as the Celtic fans when our anthem comes on.

``We have been drawn against Auxerre and Celtic, who are both Champions League teams. We haven't had to play weaker sides because we are in the UEFA Cup.''

On the fitness of Heskey, Houllier added: ``Emile will play.

``He trained since Monday and gave himself every chance.''

The Liverpool boss has vowed his team will go for the crucial away goal to maintain their impressive record in European games. He said: ``We are always going for goals whenever we play. Our target is an away goal and a clean sheet.''

Meanwhile, Liverpool youngster Jon Otsemobor has joined Hull City on a month's loan.

CAPTION(S):

PUT IT THERE: Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson at Parkhead last night,ahead of tonight's UEFACup tie with Celtic
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 13, 2003
Words:366
Previous Article:Football: Celtic should fear Owen, warns Houllier.
Next Article:Football: Blues try to keep McBride.


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