MIDDLESBROUGH will not push their luck with former Sunderland star Julio Arca in their hectic Championship run-in.
Boss Tony Mowbray is a big fan of the Argentinian midfielder, who shone in last week’s vital win over Watford after recovering from knee and toe injuries.
Mowbray, whose side face eight games next month, had warm praise for 30-year-old Arca, whose contract ends this summer.
The Riverside boss confessed: “Julio is the oil in our team.
“He is just a good footballer who loves the ball and keeps things going for us.
“Once he declared himself fit, playing him was an easy decision to make – but it’s unlikely he’ll play all the games in April.
“He might want to, of course, but I’ll assess that later. We have three or four players who won’t be able to play in all those games and we’ll have to utilise the squad.”
Boro have no game this weekend, but return against Leicester on Saturday week.
With confidence now high that Boro will survive after a difficult campaign, Mowbray is eager to quickly guarantee safety so that he can give game time to the club’s promising youngsters – as he looks to a brighter future.
He added: “If we get to the point where we are safe, then we’ll be in a position where we can experiment and bring in one or two of the talented young players we have, such as Cameron Park and Ben Gibson.
“We’ve got nine games to go and it’s going to be a tough slog.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to win some more football matches. We’ve got to build some momentum going into next season.
“We have to finish the season strongly if we can. We have to give ourselves and the fans belief that we can be strong and compete in this league next season.”