Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Mowbray: We're missing Bailey and Thomson
WHILE Tony Mowbray insists there is no cause for concern over his side's early season away form, the Middlesbrough manager admits the lack of a defensive midfielder has been costly on the road.
Boro slumped to their second defeat away from the Riverside against Millwall last Saturday and their form in the early stages of the new campaign has been in stark contrast to their fortunes on the road last term.
Over half of Boro's final points tally last season was generated away from the Riverside with a total of ten wins and six draws, while Mowbray's side struggled to win on home turf.
Much of that success owed to the 3-5-2 system Mowbray preferred to play, but so far the Boro boss has opted to play 4-4-2, although injuries and the departures of certain players have played a part in that decision.
The absence of Nicky Bailey and Kevin Thomson has also left Mowbray without a defensive midfielder and the Boro boss believes the fact they have been missing has left his defence exposed.
"It has been a bit frustrating with some of the injuries to key players," Mowbray admitted. "Millwall away has got Nicky Bailey written all over it and yet he wasn't available.
"Kevin has been through the whole of pre season fit then got himself injuries and he's been a loss to us, as has Rhys (Williams). The plan with Kevin is that he starts training on Monday and we'll assess him at the end of the week to see if he's ready.
"Fingers crossed Juke (Jutkiewicz) and Thomo are not far away. When we return from the international break Bailey will be two weeks closer to a return.
"I have to say we were very good at the weekend and yet we lost goals. Last year we didn't because we defended in numbers and made life very difficult for the opposition.
"I understand what won us games last year but as I say without Bailey or Thomson we don't really have a defensive-minded midfielder.
"The player sitting in front of the back four, breaking up attacks and giving the defensive players a lot of protection. Last year we had that, but the personal at the club to do that aren't available."
After next Saturday's visit of Ipswich, Boro face difficult back-to-back away trips when they visit early pace setters Blackpool followed by Blackburn Rovers, but Mowbray insists there is no need to be concerned just yet.
"I'd have to say it's still a bit soon to be making an assessment on our form home or away.
"Let's wait till we're ten or 12 games in and if were still struggling away from home they're must be something fundamentally wrong.
"At home, you'd hope we can keep winning matches. I think we have different types of players that will be better for us on the ball and enable us to dominate possession and be clinical around the box.
"Away from home we need to be difficult to beat and make sure teams find us hard to break down.
"I'm confident when the whole squad is fit and available for each game and I think we've got some good players and a good balanced squad, but we have to win football matches as we go along.
"Sometimes when they're not there they don't get mentioned. We've lost at the weekend but I'm sure a lot wasn't made about the fact we were missing Bailey, Carayol, Williams, Thomson and Jutkiewicz, who would probably have started the game if available. That's football."
Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele missed England Under-21s European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan through illness yesterday, while Josh McEachran started on the bench for Stuart Pearce's side.
n Boro have been awarded an allocation of 1,500 seats for their Capital Cup third round tie at Preston.
The game takes place on Tuesday, September 25 with tickets costing £15 (adults), £10 (over-60), £14 (16-17 & students) and £5 (under-16).
Tickets go on sale to season card holders on Monday, Boro pride members on Thursday and general sale on Friday, September 14.