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Hines set to step in as Woodgate replacement
TONY MOWBRAY has backed Seb Hines to make the most of his opportunity to shine in a Middlesbrough shirt again after Jonathan Woodgate’s latest injury set-back.
Woodgate’s hamstring problem will be assessed this week but he has already been ruled out of Wednesday’s visit of Derby County to the Riverside Stadium.
The 32-year-old had to hobble off after 38 minutes of Boro’s 2-1 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday, when an old injury resurfaced.
But Mowbray is optimistic that Hines, who has lost his place following the arrival of Andre Bikey, can prove his worth again.
“There’s a fair chance Woodgate will not be playing on Wednesday and that’s part and parcel of football,” said Mowbray, who also has the option of bringing Stephen McManus into the squad.
“Woody will have to be assessed, we will see. Seb Hines has probably been unfortunate not to be playing and so he will have a chance to show what he can do. He did very well for us last season, played some of his best football, so I’m sure he will do well when we call on him.”
Mowbray was keen to avoid making quick judgements on Woodgate’s injury, but it is worrying that a small niggle seems to have worsened.
Towards the end of playing three Championship games inside a week he felt a tightening of the hamstring as the final whistle approached at Blackburn ten days ago.
He was left out of the Capital One Cup tie at Preston as a precautionary measure, but the former Tottenham defender was forced off in the first half against Leicester.
Mowbray was already without Mustapha Carayol, Ishmael Miller, Marvin Emnes, Adam Reach and Rhys Williams through injury. The Middlesbrough boss, however, is not prepared to worry about a growing injury list too much.
He said: “The injury situation feels worse when you are on the back of a defeat and we are now. Had we won, then everybody would have been saying what a decent squad we have got. Everything’s rosy.
“But we have lost a game and it does feel worse with Woody coming off the pitch, on top of having Carayol, Miller, Emnes, Reach all injured.
We lacked dynamic pace at the top end without those.
“We try our best to get them fit. Thankfully, the game will be Wednesday rather than Tuesday, hopefully the extra day will make a difference.”
Middlesbrough did lack that burst of speed to cause problems to the Foxes defence, which at times left lone striker Lukas Jutkiewicz too isolated in attack.
Mowbray said: “Speed was the missing ingredient, we probably lacked that cutting edge. That’s the missing ingredient for the team which might have given us something extra. That’s how it is.”