TWO Middlesbrough teammates could go head to head on home soil after the Riverside was confirmed as a venue for a crucial England game.

Boro stars Gareth Southgate and Szilard Nemeth are hoping to be handed the opportunity to lock horns when the national team takes on Slovakia on June 11.

As revealed in Northern Echo Sport on Monday, the international match - the first to be hosted at the ground - is an important Euro 2004 qualifier.

"This is a great opportunity for our supporters to watch England in a very important 2004 qualifier at the Riverside," said Boro skipper Southgate.

"It's a tremendous honour for Middlesbrough Football Club and I hope England can make it a day to remember.

"Everyone knows how much I love playing for England and it would be great to represent my country on the ground where I play my club football."

And Nemeth, who scored when Sven Goran Eriksson's men beat Slovakia 2-1 in Bratislava this season, is delighted the clash will be taking place in the North-East.

Now the Boro striker is just hoping he will be named in the starting line-up in just over five months.

Nemeth said: "It will be fantastic to play at the Riverside for my country. I just hope I am playing in such a big match.

"It will be a strange feeling to be a Middlesbrough player but with the fans shouting for the other team.

"We gave England a very tough match in Slovakia and we can promise them another tough match in Middlesbrough."

Boro's 34,000-plus capacity ground has previously hosted three Under-21 internationals, but they have had to wait until now to be given the opportunity to host the full national team.

Newcastle's St. James' Park and Sunderland's Stadium of Light have previously played host to such matches and Boro chief executive Keith Lamb is delighted his club have been given the recognition he feels they deserve.

Lamb said: "We are very much looking forward to hosting England for such a prestigious fixture. We actively encouraged the FA to choose the Riverside because we believe we have one of the country's best stadiums.

"As we have international players of both countries in our team it is particularly appropriate that we should host a game between England and Slovakia. June 11 promises to be a proud day for Middlesbrough and its supporters."

Boro last hosted an England international in 1937, when Sir Stanley Matthews scored in a 2-1 win over Wales at Ayresome Park.

And the Football Association insist a return to Teesside was long overdue, especially considering the close ties the FA have formed with the club.

Adrian Bevington, the FA's head of communications, said: "Sven has been here on several occasions for matches and he wanted to express his thanks to the people of Teesside for the warm welcome he receives when he is here.

"It's a fantastic stadium. We want to take the England team to as many of the stadia that are able to host senior international matches as possible, and Middlesbrough is a renowned football area.

"Middlesbrough have always been helpful, not only for the Under-21s but Steve McClaren was an integral part of the England set up during the World Cup."

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