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Mowbray: We fear no one in quarter-final draw
TONY Mowbray claims Middlesbrough should not fear anyone ahead of this evening's draw for the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.
Boro booked their place in the last eight as Scott McDonald's first-half strike secured a deserved 1-0 win at Sunderland last night.
The Teessiders outplayed their Premier League opponents to claim a place in the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2005, and have now recorded five victories on the bounce in all competitions and five successive away wins.
Leeds United and Bradford City are among Boro's prospective quarter-final opponents, but Mowbray insists his side have nothing to fear, even if they are paired with Arsenal or the winners of tonight's tie between Chelsea and Manchester United.
A home tie would be nice – last night's trip to the Stadium of Light was Boro's 12th away draw in a row in the League Cup – but whatever happens this evening, Mowbray will be looking ahead with optimism.
“It'll probably be an away draw won't it,” joked the Boro boss. “Whoever we get, we get, but we shouldn't fear anybody, wherever we have to play them.
“That's the fourth Capital One Cup away game we've won, so we've got a pretty decent record in the competition. I've not seen all the other results yet, so I don't really know who's left in the competition, but we certainly shouldn't be fearful of facing anyone. Whatever happens, if we apply ourselves like we have done here, we'll give someone else a very tough game I'm sure.”
Before the game, Mowbray reiterated that winning promotion from the Championship remains Boro's overriding priority this season.
He has not changed his outlook despite last night's success, but with the quarter-final not scheduled until the middle of December, the need to balance the competing demands of two different fronts should not be so acute.
“We have to win league games,” said Mowbray. “If we get to a semi-final or even a final but it costs us points in the league, ultimately we'll get judged as a football club on where we finish the season in the Championship.
“We have to continue and push on to be a good side in our league, because there are a lot of good teams in the division with us. It's nice to have the distraction of the cup, but you never know what's round the corner. A sending off or a mistake, and suddenly you're out and the games that have gone previously in the competition don't matter.
“What's important now is getting back and making sure we win our next two away games in the league that are coming up this week. When the cup game comes around, then we'll concentrate on that, and whoever we draw, we'll focus on giving them a good game.”
Nevertheless, the joy of the 2,800 Middlesbrough fans high in the North Stand in the Stadium of Light was clear to see, and Mowbray was happy to revel in their happiness at dumping their regional rivals out of the cup.
“You could hear how happy and delighted the fans were at the end,” he said. “I thought we gave a good account of ourselves in the two games against Sunderland last year, but ultimately ended up disappointed.
“It's just great for the people of Teesside. I'm sure the ones who saw it are driving down the A19 as happy as can be. That's our job. Football is a game for the people, and the people of Teesside are happy tonight.”
The only disappointment from a Boro perspective was a knee injury to Seb Hines that will rule the defender out of Saturday's trip to Charlton and next week's visit to Nottingham Forest.
“Seb's got a problem with his knee,” said Mowbray. “He maybe should have come off at half-time, so I'm just hoping we haven't damaged him a bit more by leaving him on for that extra 20 minutes or so. It's obviously a blow for us what with (Jonathan) Woodgate and (Rhys) Williams being missing at the moment.”