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SMILING AGAIN

Posted on 2 October 2006  - 12:00

A smile was back on the face of Dimitar Berbatov as he reflected on his return to action against Portsmouth on Sunday.

A smile was back on the face of Dimitar Berbatov as he reflected on his return to action against Portsmouth on Sunday.

The striker missed out on five games after coming back from international duty carrying a groin injury. He was not a happy figure as the fixtures ticked by without him being involved and it was something of a release for him when he was able to take to the pitch against Pompey.

His impact was almost immediate. After linking up with Jermain Defoe, his head made a strong connection with his strike partner's cross and a goal looked the likely outcome until David James managed to shovel the ball off the line.

The Bulgarian was prevented from latching onto the rebound and it took a clever finish from Danny Muprhy to extract full profit from the opening.

"There was a defender in front me and that is why I was a little bit slow to it," said the 25-year-old. "Fortunately Danny was there and we got an early goal."

Considering his lay-off, Dimitar looked to have lost nothing in terms of sharpness and anticipation in his comeback game. He put it down to hard work at the Lodge and his joy over being back in the thick of it again.

"Yes, we trained really hard and I was happy to be back in mix with the guys and playing on the pitch. The most important thing is we won and hopefully we can start to win regularly because we have good players and a top coach.

"With this win behind us, we can hopefully push on and win our next one against Aston Villa.

"The most awful thing for a football player or any sportsman is to be injured. That is why I am so happy now, because I have played a game and helped my team," he continued, before looking ahead to his forthcoming international assignments when Bulgarian will take on Holland and Luxembourg in Euro 2008 qualfification.

"I hope I can do my job for the national team and return back here fully fit this time. We played Holland and it will be a difficult game, but in football nothing is impossible and we can beat them."