MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray is demanding an improvement up front as the Teessiders look to ease their fears at the wrong end of the Championship table.
Boro head to Bristol City on Saturday desperate to make amends for last week’s shattering FA Cup exit at League Two club Burton Albion, when a third stoppage time goal in the last six matches knocked out the visitors.
Kris Boyd had a goal disallowed at Burton, but Mowbray bemoaned the club’s lack of a killer instinct in front of goal.
“If you don’t stick the ball in the net, then you don’t win football matches,” said Mowbray, who will have to do without Scott McDonald at Ashton Gate, with the Australian away on international duty.
“We have to start taking a higher percentage of our chances.
“One-nil is never enough and we have suffered from conceding late goals these last few weeks.
“But if we take a better ratio of chances the last five minutes don’t matter.”
Reflecting on the Burton defeat, Mowbray added: “If we were more clinical we’d have won. We have to improve in all departments. We have to keep working hard.”
Surprisingly, former flop Boro striker Mido is back training at the club – having had his contract at Ajax terminated, less than six months after seeing his Middlesbrough contract expire. The 28-year-old Egyptian is training alongside ex-Boro men Jeremie Aliadiere and Andrew Davies, who could both be offered terms to rejoin the Teessiders. Davies, indeed, will play for the reserves against Stoke today.
Mido has been linked with Espanyol, Deportivo La Coruna and Egyptian outfit Zamalek.
Barry Robson, Marvin Emnes and keeper Jason Steele could return for Boro against Bristol City on Saturday. Emnes is back in training after a foot problem, Steele has overcome knee trouble and Robson is recovering from a tight thigh muscle which kept him out of last week’s FA Cup defeat at Burton Albion.
Boro, though, have sustained an injury setback, with on-loan Hamburg midfielder Mickael Tavares laid low by a broken big toe, which is set to keep him on the sidelines for three weeks.
Australian midfielder Rhys Williams (pelvis) and Willo Flood (dislocated knee) should return to training next month.
David Wheater, meanwhile, could yet play for Boro at Bristol City at the weekend, having trained again with the Teessiders as his proposed move to Premier League Bolton continues to stall.
Bolton are reportedly coolling their interest in a £4million move for the centre-back, with Stoke and Everton also keen. With the player out of contract in the summer, and available for free, the interested clubs may opt to bide their time.
Boro’s youngsters visit Doncaster in the FA Youth Cup tonight.