LEON Best took a step nearer his long-awaited Blackburn Rovers first team competitive debut with a goal in the reserves' 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough this afternoon.

The former Newcastle United man has been out all season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury but played almost 80 minutes for the second string today as he continues his bid for fitness.

Best won't be involved in tomorrow night's Championship trip to Leicester City but is expected to be in contention for a place on the bench for Saturday's visit of Peterborough.

Best showed good composure to fire Rovers ahead early in the second half this afternoon, before a hat trick from Luke Williams condemned Gary Bowyer's side to a 3-1 defeat.