TONY Mowbray has blamed Marvin Emnes' below-par campaign on personal problems that have been afflicting the Middlesbrough striker, but expressed confidence he will be able to put the issues behind him and move on next season.

Emnes has appeared a shadow of his former self for much of the last nine months, with last weekend's strike against Charlton ending a four-and-a-half month spell without a goal.

Mowbray has barely picked the Dutchman in the second half of the season, but the pair have been wrestling with a difficult personal situation that remains ongoing.

Understandably, Middlesbrough do not want to publicise Emnes' problems, but the striker was allowed to travel to Surinam for compassionate leave last September and club officials have been kept abreast of the situation as it has subsequently developed.

"Within our football club, I think I have a fair idea of what's happened to Marvin," revealed Mowbray. "It's not really for public discussion. Marvin has had one or two things he's had to deal with, and we've had to deal with them as well.

"In my opinion, he's a really high-quality football player who is probably the most technical player at the club. I've said that for the last two and a half years. When I arrived he was on loan at Swansea and cast out, but he returned and scored 17 or 18 goals last season.

"He's had some issues to deal with this season and he hasn't produced the high standard of football we know he can. But while he's here we have a responsibility to try to get the best out of him."

As well as dealing with his personal issues, Emnes' mindset was affected last summer when a much-mooted move to Swansea City failed to materialise.

Boro turned down two separate approaches from the Swans, who have made sporadic attempts to sign Emnes permanently ever since the Dutchman spent most of the first half of the 2010-11 season on loan at the Liberty Stadium.

The interest is now believed to be at an end, and while Boro would be prepared to listen to offers for Emnes' services this summer - as would be the case for the vast majority of their squad - it is hard to imagine too many clubs beating a path to the Riverside's door given the striker's struggles this term.

That would mean Emnes continuing to play a key role in Boro's attempts to regain their Premier League status, and Mowbray is hoping he returns for the start of pre-season training refreshed and determined to regain his best form.

"Let's hope the issues are behind him," he said. "He's been smiling and laughing in training this week, and he scored a goal against Charlton and contributed to the team getting back into the game.

"Let's see. Let's hope he goes away in the summer, enjoys the break, and comes back with those big white teeth flashing in training because he's smiling and enjoying himself again.

"I decide whether or not to pick Marvin on what I see in training every day. I speak to him and try to get him going, and get him in a good place where his talent can be expressed on the field. If I don't think that's happened, he doesn't play.

"He trained well last week and looked the player we think he can be. He scored a goal at the weekend, even though I don't think it was vintage Emnes. While he's here, our job is to try to use his talent to our benefit."