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Mowbray hopes Kamara could hold Kei to promotion
Kamara made an instant impact in a Boro shirt in midweek when he scored his first goal on his full debut before showing he could be just as important defensively when he plays.
The £900,000 arrival from Sporting Kansas City has moved to Teesside with every intention of playing Premier League football, having played 11 times at that level during a loan stint at Norwich City last season.
The Canaries opted against making the move permanent at the end of his short-term switch, but Mowbray insists that was down to the finances available at Carrow Road after safeguarding Premier League status for a further year.
Hughton opted to go out and invest heavily on £12m striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel and a further £5m on Celtic’s Gary Hooper rather than return with a cheaper deal for Kamara who returned to Major League Soccer.
Before completing the deadline day transfer to Middlesbrough, Mowbray discussed Kamara at length with Hughton.
The Middlesbrough manager said: “It was only a loan move to Norwich, so I wouldn’t necessarily say it failed to work out there for him. I spoke to Chris Hughton several times about what he brought to their team and what strengths he brings, and the reasons why he left.
“Chris didn’t say he didn’t sign him because he couldn’t do this or that. He didn’t sign him because he was spending millions on van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper: Priorities. He probably thought both of those players would score more goals in the Premier League. He prioritised.
“He never said to me he wasn’t good enough. We talked about his assets, his personality. We made a move on the back of what I had seen of him, what we had heard about him. Let’s see how it develops here for him. He instantly likes the group of players here and the area. Hopefully he will be a part of a successful period at this club.”
In Kansas City he became something of a football hero, worshipped by the club’s supporters for his approach to playing for the club and his back story, having moved to California through a refugee programme aged 16 when he left war-torn Sierra Leone behind.
Kamara has not even spent a full week’s training with the club yet, but Mowbray can already see the benefits of having him around the training ground.
Mowbray said: “He has had a twinkle in his eye, he seems really happy to be here. It’s good that he could watch our game at Ipswich, see our preparation, to see how we play. He knows what we expect and how we play.
“I would have to say he has an endearing character, personality. He is more relaxed around here than post-match. He listens, I can see in his eyes he is listening and paying attention. He is a serious footballer and yet away from football he is really genial and relaxed, which is endearing to people.
“His character is such that you like him. I am more interested in the professional side and ability to do the job. He has shown in his two appearances – particularly on Tuesday – that he can be a serious threat to the opposition.”
As well as an ability to score goals, Kamara’s versatility means he can play across the forward line. During his performance at Nottingham Forest, however, he also showed how useful he will be at helping out from a defensive aspect.
“The basics of heading the ball out of our box, sometimes the centre-halves need a bit of help to head the ball away,” said Mowbray. “Not just one or two guys who can do it like Rhys Williams and Jonathan Woodgate. Kei will help bring that element.
“Hopefully he will help us become resilient at doing that because he is an extra head for our team to defend such situations. I am not going to sit here and say he is an answer to all of our problems. The problems might be down the road, but he is an asset for us moving forward.”
Kamara is likely to keep his place when Bournemouth travel to the Riverside Stadium tomorrow, but there is a doubt surrounding the fitness of Dutch striker Marvin Emnes, who did not train yesterday with a groin problem.
Woodgate is in line to start his third game inside eight days, with Mowbray suggesting it will be a test of his fitness after spending the last few years struggling to cope with such demands.
“This is an acid test for him,” said Mowbray, who indicated Seb Hines is still a couple of weeks away from match fitness after a long lay-off.
“Is he going to play? Is he going to get through it? Will he last? How will he feel after it? There’s things to think about. At the moment we are not facing any major obstacles.”
Mowbray also revealed Middlesbrough – despite complaints the decision was wrong – will not be appealing against Emanuel Ledesma’s red card picked up at the City Ground. The Argentine faces a three-match ban for going in to the back of Henri Lansbury.
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