GAIZKA MENDIETA has set his sights on a double at Blackburn this afternoon: a first away win since August and an end to his barren spell in front of goal.

Middlesbrough's 2-0 victory at Fulham is their only win on the road this season and although boss Steve McClaren will not be too worried about that statistic this early in the campaign - especially as signs against Manchester United revealed the tide was turning - he knows if they are to break the stranglehold of the Premiership's top five, winning more regularly on the road remains a priority.

A trip to transitional club Blackburn could be just the tonic for the Teessiders to cure their early-season travel sickness.

The Boro boss was encouraged by his depleted side's performance at Old Trafford prior to the international break and could have left the north-west with all three points but for Alan Smith's late equaliser.

The 1-1 draw against Man Utd coincided with Mendieta's impressive return to the fold and despite spending nearly four weeks out of action with a calf injury, the Spaniard turned in his best display of the season in his favourite central midfield position.

Critics of the former Valencia and Lazio star say he does not find the target enough for a player of his natural flair and ability - Mendieta last scored in the Teessiders' 5-3 home victory over Birmingham in March.

Although Mendieta has never been prolific from midfield prior to his move to the Riverside, he did hit the net on an average of just under one in every five appearances.

At Valencia, he scored 52 goals in 255 games, and for Spain he has netted eight times in 39. Last season he scored three goals in 37 appearances and has yet to hit the mark in the new campaign.

The 30-year-old says he is unconcerned about his dearth of goals but added this could be rectified if he was moved into his favoured central slot in midfield.

He said: "It is not a great concern but I would like to score more goals. When I play I think about playing well, doing the right things and being prepared, but I would like to improve my scoring record.

"I like to play in the centre of midfield and the gaffer knows I can play there, which is the important thing.

"I would probably get more goals if I played in the centre as you participate more in the game there and have chances to go into the box. But I will be happy to play on the right, centre or left on Saturday."

Mendieta's goal drought is not the only concern as the Teessiders head to Ewood Park having registered only one goal in five hours and 12 minutes of Premiership football and gleaned just one point from a possible nine.

Mendieta is looking for Boro to put this right this afternoon with a morale-boosting victory ahead of Thursday's UEFA Cup match in Greece against Aigaleo.

He said: "It is an important game on Saturday. Many of the supporters are thinking about the UEFA Cup draw but we must not forget the league.

"Last season we did not do as well as we should have in the league and we have to improve on that, starting Saturday.

"I was lucky to come back and play against Manchester United after being out injured for three weeks. I felt very fit but I do need some more games.

"It has been like a mini pre-season for me after being out for so long with injury. I have had two weeks to prepare for this weekend's game."

Once Boro get today's Premiership clash out of the way they set off for the next stage of their European adventure.

Mendieta says he knows little of Greek side Aigaleo and has not come across Partizan Belgrade on his travels but is looking forward to the fixtures, and none more so than his team's mouth-watering clash against former club Lazio.

The midfielder's £29m transfer to the Italian club from Valencia did not turn out to be the dream move he anticipated, but he has no regrets.

"It is nearly three years since I have been there but it is always special to play against your old team," he said.

"I was happy when we were drawn against them because I will see some old team-mates, but I have nothing to prove to them.

"Villarreal is another important game. They are a bit better known than they were previously after reaching the semi-final of the UEFA Cup last season.

"They have some important players like (Sonny) Anderson and (Diego) Forlan and it is going to be a difficult game because they have a lot of quality and they like to press forward.

"But we have a big chance to go through to the next stage of the competition."

Read more about Middlesbrough here.