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Leo's back in groove

English Barclays Premiership

Oyvind Leonhardsen is smiling again. The Norwegian midfielder was at a low ebb when a heel problem hindered his pre-season progress but he has since played in both of our Premiership matches and scored a magnificent header at Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

The injury kept Leonhardsen out of Norway's Euro2000 plans and he worked tirelessly throughout the summer in a bid to get fit. That hard work looks to have paid off.

"I'm delighted to be playing," said 'Leo'. "I had a lot of injury problems last season so it's great to be back in there and even better to score a goal. It was a great cross from Sergei Rebrov and I just jumped in front of Curtis Fleming and headed towards goal.

"The heel feels excellent. I had a few problems with it in pre-season but now it feels good, so I'm really pleased. We're playing well too and apart from 10 minutes in the second half at Middlesbrough we've looked very solid.

"I just hope we can keep it going now. We've a very tough game at Newcastle on Saturday and we have to keep working hard and hopefully we can get a result up there as well."

Manager George Graham has been delighted with Leonhardsen's contribution. He said: "We missed him in the second half of last season, just like we missed a number of our influential players. It's nice that we've got them all back and to see someone like Les Ferdinand on the bench - bringing him on is such a massive, massive boost. We're slowly getting there but we have a good squad of players and a wonderful team spirit."