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Leverkusen ready for Robson

Bayer 04 Leverkusen insist they will not be overawed by Sir Bobby Robson's Newcastle United FC.

By Mark Bennett

The new Bayer 04 Leverkusen coach Thomas Hörster has insisted he will not be overawed by renowned opposite number Sir Bobby Robson when Newcastle United FC visit the BayArena on Tuesday for a Group A tie both sides need to win.

Experienced Robson
Robson, who also turns 70 on Tuesday, has a wealth of top-level coaching experience, in contrast to the 46-year-old Hörster who has stepped up from Leverkusen's Under-21 side to take charge of a team battling to stay in the 1. Bundesliga. "You have to take it as it comes," Hörster said  "I haven't had time to think about my counterpart and therefore I am not intimidated."

Survival priority
Hörster was promoted to replace Klaus Toppmöller on Sunday in an attempt to halt Leverkusen's dramatic slide. Last season's Champions League finalists slumped to fourth from bottom of the Bundesliga after losing for the fifth successive time, 2-1 at home to FC Hansa Rostock, on Saturday and Hörster admitted that Bundesliga survival, not the Champions League, is his priority. "The [Newcastle] game is a welcome test for me, but to be honest, the Bundesliga match against Hannover [96, on Sunday] is more important at the moment than the Champions League," he said.

Pointless
Hörster, who as a player was capped twice by the Federal Republic of Germany, may not share Robson's experience, but both coaches find themselves in a similar position in Group A, having failed to collect a single point from either of their opening two matches.

Pair suspended
Newcastle's recent draw with Premiership leaders Arsenal FC ensures that the Magpies go into the match with confidence high, but Robson has problems of his own as he attempts to claw back points on FC Barcelona and Internazionale FC. Strike pairing Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy are both suspended, opening the door for two of Shola Ameobi, Lomana LuaLua and Carl Cort.

Robson confident
"I am very confident with all my three strikers," said Robson. "When we first bought Carl Cort just over two years ago from Wimbledon [FC], he was magnificent in the early stages. He has been plagued by injuries but he is over them now. Carl is in the squad and he's ready to play while Shola Ameobi has done well when we have asked him to do a job in the past and LuaLua has been on fire in training."

'Important game'
"This is an important game for us," Robson added. "I think that if we don't get anything from it then it may be that little bit too much to expect us to do what we did in the last phase and qualify through the last game. We have to get points on the board to have any chance of progressing."

Selection doubts
Hörster will be without long-term absentee Jens Nowotny and his fellow defender Lucio, but the defender Diego Placente should play despite a broken nose. The Brazilian defender Cris and the Poland midfield player Radoslav Kaluzny, both signed during the winter break, may get a chance to put their case for inclusion while the Turkish midfield player Yildiray Bastürk, who is serving a domestic ban, should return to the side.