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Matteo the Ram-buster.

Dynamic Dominic Matteo will today do his best to prove he really is Liverpool's "new Alan Hansen."

The elegant 22-year-old has forced his way into the England frame with a

series of performances which have recalled the Hansen glory years.

And he will be looking for another sparkling performance to slam the door shut on Derby County at Anfield to advance his international claims.

"It's very flattering to be talked about in the same breath as Alan but I'm my own man, playing it my way," declared Matteo last night.

"I can understand the comparisons because I try to bring it out from the back, given that the midfield is so packed these days.

"Yet there was a time when I was younger when I just hadn't got it right mentally.

"The boss Roy Evans warned me that I was going absolutely nowhere and that helped because I wasn't strong enough to cope with things before.

"I was a bit stupid off the pitch sometimes but that was only because I was becoming so disillusioned with reserve team football."

Meanwhile, realist Jim Smith hopes for the best but fears the worst.

Derby's up-front boss reckons that after getting a draw from Manchester United and being narrowly beaten by Newcastle, the law of averages is on his side against Liverpool. The Bald Eagle beams: "We must be due a win against one of the big three - but the law of averages doesn't often apply to football.

"We will go there hoping for a point but, let's face it, they are always going to be very difficult to beat on their own ground."

If the Rams are to batter their way to three points then Croatian Aljosa Asanovic is going to have to play a big part.

Said Smith: "Ace is top class and will have to be at his best if we are to get a result.

"He'll have to be right up for it along with all the rest of them."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 27, 1996
Words:331
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