TONY MOWBRAY is on the verge of giving his out-ofsorts squad a lift by bringing in Newcastle United’s Sammy Ameobi after Middlesbrough slipped out of the Championship’s play-off places for the first time since October.
The need for a fresh face was strengthened by Boro’s 2-1 defeat to Millwall, which ended in controversy.
Nicky Bailey clashed with the Lions’ Alan Dunne in the aftermath of a stoppage time goal that was ruled out for offside.
With the window for emergency loans open again, Mowbray has been working on a deal over the weekend to make sure he has Ameobi in place when Middlesbrough take on leaders Cardiff City on Saturday.
The manager, whose side face Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday, admitted after last Tuesday’s draw at Burnley that he was coming round to the idea of signing someone.
After missing out on Danny Graham on deadline day he had been adamant there was no great rush to make a loan signing. Dropping out of the top six, though, has helped to change his mind and he is hoping to announce something today.
Ameobi, 20, an England Under-21 international, is going to be granted permission to swap Tyneside for Teesside until the end of the season.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said: “Middlesbrough have been in touch about Sammy and we’d like to help them out if we can. They have asked to take him on loan and that’s something that could be of benefit to everyone. We’ll be speaking to them again this week.”
Frustration among the players was evident on Saturday when Boro lost for the seventh time in nine league games, despite Curtis Main’s strike in the 75th minute.
Boro thought they had claimed a point in stoppage time when Scott McDonald’s presence in the area led to Mustapha Carayol’s delivery being turned over the line.
McDonald, however, was rightly ruled offside.
The decision still sparked controversial scenes, with many Boro players surrounding referee Michael Naylor and there was also a confrontation between Bailey and Dunne – with suggestions the pair also needed separating in the tunnel afterwards.
Middlesbrough are just keen to forget about Saturday’s latest disappointing result and focus on a big week in their season.
And after scoring his third goal since returning from injury, in-form striker Main hopes it earns him the right to go head-to-head with John Terry.
The FA Cup has given Middlesbrough some light relief since the turn of the year and they are due to host European champions Chelsea in the fifth round on Wednesday. Having delivered another reminder of his eye for a goal in the defeat to Millwall, Main is hoping he retains his place in the starting line-up for the visit of the Blues.
The 20-year-old, only released by then-Conference club Darlington in the summer of 2011, would relish a battle with some of the Premier League’s best defenders – and is keeping his fingers crossed it comes true.
“It would be a massive test to come up against players like John Terry, the former England captain, and there’s not really anyone better than him around at the moment,”
said Main. “Of course I’d like to play, so if I’m selected to play I’ll enjoy the test and try to do my best and get on the scoresheet again.
“I have to treat it as just another game if I am playing. It doesn’t matter who else is on the pitch, you can only do your own things right and take it from there.”
Every time Main finds the net in a Boro shirt it provides further evidence Darlington lost a talented forward who would have been capable of terrorising lower league defences.
The fact he was allowed to leave the Quakers for nothing under the management of Mark Cooper is even more staggering.
“First of all I don’t know if I’ll be on the pitch against Chelsea, but I always believed in myself and always thought I could play at a higher level against teams like that back then (in the Darlington days),” said Main, who has still only made three starts and 15 as a sub in the league for Boro.
Main spent five months in the treatment room after suffering knee ligament damage just two appearances in to his second campaign with Middlesbrough in August.
Boro’s lack of fully fit attacking options forced Mowbray to turn to him against Barnsley on February 9 and after returning with a goal he has scored against Leeds United and now Millwall.
Two of those games have ended in defeat, contributing to the fact Middlesbrough’s drop from the top spot occupied in November to the seventh place they hold now.
Main said: “It was really frustrating when I was injured.
It was a couple of weeks into the season and it left me pretty disappointed. I worked hard to come back and that’s paid off eventually, I’ve got myself back in the team and scoring goals.
“Now I just want to turn those goals into important goals and important wins.
Three goals in three starts isn’t bad, but you enjoy it a lot more when you win.
“You enjoy scoring goals as a striker, but you want them to mean something.”