GRANT LEADBITTER believes Middlesbrough have a squad capable of staying in the Championship’s promotion mix over the festive period – even if a growing injury list refuses to ease.
After returning to the North-East yesterday following Wednesday’s 1-0 Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat at Swansea, manager Tony Mowbray is weighing up his options ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Wolves.
Faris Haroun, Andre Bikey and Jonathan Woodgate have hamstring problems, Seb Hines has been nursing a knee knock and Andy Halliday’s Achilles is being treated.
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But he is not worried about the number of players in the treatment room – the midfielder says Mowbray has a squad capable of coping with injuries.
“I look at Richie Smallwood in training, who works hard,”
said Leadbitter. “Then there’s Kevin Thomson, he is working to get in the team and is a top player waiting for a chance.
“Kevin wants to play for this club, as do all of the many players and we need different players to come in at different times to get us promoted.
When we have a group of players wanting that then that bodes well for the club.
“Throughout the season the manager has changed things. We have not had the same 11 every week, so we are used to having to mix it up.
“We have 22 good players who are all capable of coming in and doing a job when players are left out. We know different players can do well in the next week. That’s what can see us through.”
Boro focus on the Championship tomorrow and there are three points separating them from second spot.
Mowbray gave his players a warm down session in South Wales yesterday before flying back to Teesside.
He will have his players in today to work on team shape, having watched DVDs aimed at devising a plan to overcome Wolves.
Leadbitter says Boro will be ready, even if there was frustration after being knocked out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday.
“We were not in a good mood,” admitted Leadbitter.
“It was an opportunity for us to get to a major cup final, we played really well and unfortunately it didn’t go our way.
“There’s no consolation when you lose. Swansea are a good team but we are a good team. I should have scored myself, I’m disappointed. But the first 60 minutes we were very good. They just wore us down.
“We can’t afford to dwell.
Priorities are the Premier League, but we wanted to reach the semi-final, now we need to move on and make sure we get back to winning ways against Wolves.”
Leadbitter, forced off with hamstring trouble at Swansea, is satisfied he will have recovered and can be in contention tomorrow.
He said: “I felt my hamstring, there’s nothing major.
There are a few lads feeling things, but that’s what football is about. It’s part of it. I will try to play through it, I am sure I will be okay for Saturday.”
Boro defender Ben Gibson could be set for an early return to the Riverside after suffering an abductor strain. The 19-year-old was not due back from Tranmere until January, but he is facing up to eight weeks out through injury.