LEON Best has warned his Blackburn Rovers’ strike rivals ‘I will be breathing down your neck soon’ after insisting he can return stronger than ever.

Rovers’ £3.5million summer signing from Newcastle United returned to full training late last week after spending the season so far on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The 26-year-old knows, once full fitness is achieved, he will face a fierce battle for places but insists he is relishing the challenge.

Jordan Rhodes, who scored his 17th and 18th league goal for the club on Saturday, has struck up a fruitful partnership with Colin-Kazim Richards while DJ Campbell is expected to be added on loan from QPR on Friday.

An injury to Rangers’ new signing Loic Remy is unlikely to prevent the former Blackpool man joining on loan, with a view to a permanent signing, with David Goodwillie and Nuno Gomes also in the scrap of the strikers.

But, having yet to play a competitive game for the club, Best is just looking forward to being involved again, although his first team return is unlikely to be for a few weeks yet.

Best said: “It has been a long time coming, it feels great to be back and it is just a matter of being fit now.

“It feels good. I need to get my fitness up for a game. Maybe a few 20 minutes here and there in a reserve game or two and then back in the first team. I will be breathing down their necks soon enough.

“A few days here and there I have been a pain and come in stressed, just through wanting to be back so much, but now I am back all my tests have come out good and I am stronger than I was before.”

Best was heralded as Rovers’ big summer signing until a serious knee injury picked up in a pre-season friendly against AEK Athens saw the club forced to look elsewhere, with Jordan Rhodes brought in towards the end of August.

“I have been to the specialist a few times and he has not told me what I wanted to hear,” Best told Rovers player. “Obviously I wanted to be back a lot sooner but now I am at the point I am back, I am delighted and it is probably better that I did wait as it feels much better.

“It is a matter of getting sharp and used to what I am doing. Just being on the ball and back out there with the players is a lovely feeling.

“I love training, I love playing football. It has been hard but I feel much happier now.

As soon as they told me I could train I have just felt much happier. I am buzzing to be back.

“When I score my first goal I will be running to the medical team because they have been amazing.

“I have been with Dave Le Fevre every day, he has been a big part in my life since the operation as have all the medical team. I have a good relationship with them.

“He has been great with me. It is down to me to carry on doing my strength and exercises to keep everything getting stronger and stronger.

“The positives out of the injury are it has opened me eyes up to things I have never done before, like keeping my body as strong as it can be by doing little exercises I have never thought of before.”