TONY Mowbray has urged an out-of-sorts Marvin Emnes to use the negative reaction of the Middlesbrough supporters as a spur to rediscover his best form in the final three-and-a-half months of the season.
Emnes was booed from the field as he was substituted in the second half of Saturday's FA Cup victory over Aldershot, with the Riverside faithful clearly unhappy at his below-par performance.
The Dutchman, who had missed a crucial penalty in his previous appearance at Leicester, has failed to fire for the majority of the season, with his performances rarely matching the standards he set last term, when he finished the campaign as Boro's leading goalscorer.
Emnes has started just four of his side's last ten Championship matches, and Mowbray has warned him not to use his strained relationship with the Boro fans as an excuse for more disappointing displays.
"Footballers have to dig deep," said the Middlesbrough manager. "I was a footballer for 15 or 20 years and you have good spells and bad spells. Marvin never played in front of the Chicken Run at Ayresome Park as an 18-year-old. If you kicked it into the stand then, you knew when the crowd weren't too happy with you.
"Marvin's a pro. He gets well paid to perform, but he plays in the most difficult areas of the pitch, the forward areas. You have to be creative, but (on Saturday) we were playing against a side that was very tight and compact defensively. There was always someone tight around him and it was very difficult.
"He set his own standards last year and scored 18 goals, which was wonderful for us. Now, he has to find that confidence from within. I'll try to give him that confidence by picking him to play, but if the crowd show their displeasure to him, he has to have broad enough shoulders to use that as a motivation."
Emnes is likely to find himself back on the bench when Boro travel to Ipswich this weekend, and it will be interesting to see if Kieron Dyer is catapulted straight into the squad for the trip to the club where he initially made his name.
Dyer is expected to join Boro on a pay-as-you-play basis later today, and the injury-plagued midfielder insists he is ready to make an impact straight away.
Scott McDonald and George Friend should be part of the squad that travels to Portman Road, but Seb Hines is a doubt after hobbling off at the weekend.
"Scott's got a back problem," said Mowbray. "You hope these things can clear up in a short period of time, but it's not really an injury you can stick a definite time frame on. Hopefully it'll settle down through the start of this week and he'll be training by the end of the week and playing at Ipswich.
"George's hamstring is still a little bit delicate and that's why we didn't risk him at the weekend. Jonathan (Woodgate) is not too far away, but Seb had to come off (against Aldershot) because he was injured.
"He's tight everywhere really - back, hamstring, leg - and he felt handicapped. It seems to be perennial. Every week we seem to have lots of injuries, but we have to keep going."
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