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Leo's fit for the fight

English Barclays Premiership

Oyvind Leonhardsen's Euro2000 heartache is driving him towards full fitness for next season. Midfielder Leonhardsen missed out on Norway's European Championship campaign when a heel injured flared again during his comeback match on the last day of last season.

Affected by the problem from December to March and, after a brief comeback, through to the end of the season, he knew trudging off against Sunderland on May 14 that his Euro2000 dream was over.

But 'Leo', such a big hit with fans after his magnificent start to last season, didn't go home sulking this summer. Instead, he's worked overtime in the gym and that work looks like paying off when he returns for pre-season training on Monday.

"I was very down after that final game of the season," he admitted. "I thought everything would be fine and was confident of joining up with Norway, so for things to turn out like that was pretty hard to take.

"But it has given me more to look forward to. Missing out on the European Championships has motivated me even more to get fit and get back in time for the start of the season.

"That is one of the reasons why I have been working so hard throughout pre-season. It is very important for me to be fit in time for the new season."

Photographs courtesy of Action Images Ltd.

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