Tony McMahon focused on three points for Middlesbrough

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TONY McMahon looks set to captain Middlesbrough when promotion-chasing Swansea City visit the Riverside Stadium tomorrow.

The 24-year-old defender will be handed the armband in the absence of Matthew Bates, who picked up a leg injury during the first half of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.

But McMahon, while honoured to lead out The Reds, is more focused on picking up three points and continuing Boro’s climb away from Championship trouble.

“On Saturday (at Palace) it all happened quickly – Matty went off injured and the gaffer told me to take the armband, so obviously I did – you do what you’re told,” he explained.

“If he gives it to me on Saturday it will be a massive honour.

“You dream of captaining your side, but to be honest I’m not thinking about that.

“I just want to play football and stay in the team and get three points, but if it came down to me captaining the side, it would be an honour.”

Not that McMahon enjoyed his first experience of skippering Tony Mowbray’s men.

“It was horrible,” he said reflecting on the defeat at Selhurst Park.

“From start to finish it felt like one of those horrible games. They got the goal from a mistake and they just camped in and got everyone behind the ball. It was hard for us to break them down – obviously we didn’t do that.

“It’s going to be the opposite to Crystal Palace, they’re going to come here and play.

“They play good football like we do, so it’s going to be a good game.”

The reverse fixture against The Swans at the Liberty Stadium also ended in a 1-0 defeat.

But McMahon has warned that Boro are now a far tougher proposition under the guidance of Mowbray.

He said: “Everyone who has come and seen us in the last two months has seen that we have improved since the manager came in. We need to get to that again and it starts on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Irish midfielder Willo Flood is back in training following a six-month layoff with a dislocated kneecap.

Assistant boss Mark Venus confirmed: “Willo trained with us for the first time and that was great to see.

“Personally for him it is great news, that was a horrible injury, but for the squad as a whole he is a welcome addition.”