CURTIS MAIN is determined to prove he can solve Middlesbrough’s goalscoring problems after being handed an extended run in the first team picture under Aitor Karanka.
Main, the former Darlington forward, has been heavily involved in the match-day squad of 18 under Karanka and 17 of his 18 appearances this season have arrived since Tony Mowbray’s departure in October.
Prior to Mowbray’s sacking the 21-year-old was farmed out on loan to Shrewsbury Town in League One, but impressing with Middlesbrough is his only short-term goal.
“Since the manager has been here, every game I have been available for I have been involved in at some point from the bench or the start,” said Main. “I just want to build on that and play as many games as possible.
“Loans are not even in my thinking. I just want to impress here and do well for this manager in this team. The manager keeps selecting me after what I have shown in training so I must be doing things right.
“I haven’t been changing a great deal in how I train and work. I just have to keep doing what I have been doing to catch the manager’s eye and hopefully take those performances from the training ground on to the pitch on a Saturday.”
Despite spending the vast majority of his six years as a professional footballer as a striker since bursting on to the scene at the Quakers as a schoolboy, the 21-year-old was used as a right winger in last weekend’s goalless draw with Leeds United.
“It’s something different for me, obviously not being the man straight down the middle like I am used to,” said Main.
“As long as I am on the pitch I will play anywhere.
“Unfortunately I didn’t affect the game as much as I would have liked. Hopefully the goals will come for me soon, too.
“When I was younger, through the academy, I sometimes played out wide, I am not alien to the position that I found myself in on Saturday.
I have played there before too.
“When you play in a shape we have, the front three tend to rotate anyway. If you start in a position then that doesn’t mean you are rooted to that position throughout the 90 minutes. As long as every player is moving, then you can pop up through the middle and in the box even if you start out wide.”
Fielding Main and Kei Kamara, another central striker, as the wide men against Leeds still failed to have the desired effect in front of goal.
It is now six matches without a goal for Middlesbrough, whose barren spell has seen them drop ten points adrift of a play-off spot.
While the run of results has led to growing frustration, Main insists there is still a confidence that they are doing things right and the goals will eventually flow again.
“The lads played really well as a team against Leeds but it is still the case that we are not putting our chances away,”
said Main, whose only goal this season arrived in the New Year’s Day draw at Bolton.
“We are getting in the areas where we are still creating chances and as long as we keep doing that then the lads know the goals will come.
They have to.
“The annoying thing is that we have lost a bit of ground on the play-offs because had we converted a couple of our chances that wouldn’t be the case. We have still been keeping clean sheets.
“We would have been right up there in the table had we done that. At the moment we are outside where we want to be, not as close as we would have liked.
“If it is still mathematically possible then every single game is a massive three points for us.
“If it is possible to make the play-offs then we will fight until the end in the hope that we can make it happen.”