Middlesbrough are hoping a call from Alen Boksic will help solve their acute goalscoring crisis this week.

The Croatian striker is due to return from Italy and Boro are desperate to push him back into the side for the home test with Chelsea. Boksic has been out with hamstring problems for over two weeks but there is an outside chance he will be ready to play some part in the game on Saturday - the first for Terry Venables at the Riverside.

Boro are already without the suspended Hamilton Ricard, leaving Brian Deane and Noel Whelan as the only available front men. And they desperately need fire power from somewhere after winning just one point from the last 27 - an appalling record matched by the dreadful statistics of their goalscorers.

It is an incredible ten games since one of their strikers scored. That was Deane's goal in the home defeat by Newcastle, a reverse that started the miserable run that has dumped them at the bottom of the Premiership. Venables, though, is hoping to give Boro a lift - after needing one himself on his first day in charge.

The first team coach revealed he was involved in a shambles at Sunderland on Saturday after being stranded by the lift operator. Venables started the game in the stand but went down to the touchline after 11 minutes - and then could not get back to his seat. "I intended to stay in the stand but there was a bit of a crisis when Phil Stamp got injured," he said. "I went down in the lift to the dressing room and the situation got sorted out, but then I couldn't get back upstairs because the lift man had gone missing. So I returned to the touchline, then I was told he'd turned up. But when I went back he'd gone again. That's why I stayed with Bryan Robson - I had to. It was a farce. I can laugh now but it was serious at the time."

l Boro's FA Cup tie at Bradford City has been put back 48 hours to Monday, January 8 and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.