By Rob Nichols
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Tony Mowbray described tonight’s FA cup replay as a “huge test” for a Boro side decimated by injuries. But as Mogga well knows when the supporters here lift the roof of the Riverside then miracles can and do happen. Let’s make it happen tonight.
Tony described the Premier League’s no.1 form side as including “dangerous individuals.” He pointed to Campbell who has made such an outstanding scoring comeback from serious injury. Martin O’Neill actually had the luxury of being able to save the former Man Utd striker and keep him back from his team that won at Stoke to keep him fresh for this evening.
Mowbray also underlined the credentials of Sessignon, another potential Premier match winner in the Sunderland side.
Mowbray said of his injury list that it was important not to throw them back in too fast as “it is very intense, the games come thick and fast.” Even if Emnes and Haroun came through a fitness test the risk would probably too great of them breaking down from their hamstring injuries and maybe missing a month of so of action. That would be a risk too far.
The Boro boss still maintains as always that with so many games to play the teams with “the biggest squads stay at the top.” It is no coincidence that West Ham are now in pole position in the Championship. “Good players win matches,” and having a squad to replace those players when injured makes a world of difference. We will see tonight if there are players that can make the giant leap into the boots of Emnes, Robson, Haroun, McDonald and Bailey. Fortunately Nicky Bailey should be back on the field of play for us within a fortnight but how much are we now going to miss Scott McDonald.
“If you lose too many good footballers it becomes more difficult,” said Mowbray but he no way wanted to make any excuses. He knows every team faces its challenges with injuries and hopes that any young players called upon tonight can draw inspiration from Sunderland’s McClean and hit the ground running and make a real name for themselves.
His game plan tonight is simple. “We need to be solid defensively. But ask questions of them.” And make sure we have the quality to convert whatever chances fall our way.
One youngster that could be thrown a chance to become a hero tonight is forward Curtis Main
“He has the raw attributes to hurt teams. A young boy, he is very strong. After the disappointment of being given a free transfer he practices what we ask him to do and has reaped the rewards with goals for the development side.” If he gets the call tonight I hope he grasps it.”
Mowbray says “I’m hoping there are a lot bigger derby games to come at the right end of the Premier League.”
Mowbray is first and foremost looking forward to this evening’s encounter. “There will be a good crowd, under lights and that crowd will be important. I look forward to us giving a good account of ourselves.”
He then started to enthuse to the battle ahead.
“The team and crowd can work hand in hand. The team creates pressure to get the fans noisy. We have only lost 2 matches at the Riverside this season. We won’t roll over. I hope it rolls our way.”