By Joe Delaney, courtesy of The Daily Star

VYACHESLAV SENCHENKO is using Ricky ­Hatton as a stepping stone to a showdown against Amir Khan.

The Ukrainian faces ‘The Hitman’ at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night as Britain’s best-loved boxer ends a three-and-a-half-year exile.

Hatton would also dearly love a crack at Khan, but Senchenko is out to shatter those hopes.

Former WBA welterweight champion Senchenko, 35, said: “This is the way to come back into the limelight – beat one of the most popular boxers in the world.

“It would bring me back into the top positions worldwide. If I beat Ricky, then I can get ­another shot at a title.

“I’m not looking that far yet, because when I win this fight I will be in contention for some of the biggest fights out there.

“I could fight Amir Khan if I win, but right now I’m ­concentrating on this fight.”

Senchenko suffered his only loss in 33 battles back in April against ­Paulie ­Malignaggi.

The American took his world title in a big ­upset by stopping him in nine rounds over in Ukraine.

There are still plenty in boxing ­concerned that Hatton is ­returning, having ­suffered booze, drug and mental ­problems since losing to Manny Pacquiao in May 2009.

But Senchenko believes the Mancunian will be able to roll back the years in their 10-round welterweight clash.

He added: “When I made the decision to fight Ricky I did it expecting the best Ricky ­Hatton.

“We know Ricky wouldn’t have come back if he wasn’t at his best – that’s just how ­boxing is.

“Ricky wouldn’t have taken the risk if he didn’t think he was 100%. So we’re ­expecting a very hard fight.

“I’m very excited that I’m ­going to Manchester to fight in front of a huge crowd.

“Sure, there will be 18,000 Ricky Hatton fans – but once I’m in the ring, it’s just me and Ricky. The fans aren’t in there with him.”