GORDON STRACHAN quickly identified experience was needed in his Middlesbrough squad and now he intends to improve concentration levels among his players.

Just three wins from his opening 14 matches in charge have convinced him that moments of weakness in the mind have been major contributory factors to Boro’s poor run of form since he took over in October.

But having witnessed Middlesbrough record only their second away win during that run at Doncaster on Tuesday night, he has realised lapses in concentration are one of his team’s biggest downfalls ahead of today’s visit of Bristol City.

This evaluation has led to him targeting players he knows already offer the qualities required in the shape of Barry Robson and Stephen McManus.

But his belief has been further strengthened after witnessing his team win just one of their eight matches sandwiched between excellent away wins at Queens Park Rangers and Doncaster.

“Often it is just a lack of concentration, a complete lack of concentration,” said Strachan. “If you look at the game against Blackpool (0-3 immediately after QPR) it was a nothing game and you could not see anyone scoring. You think ‘let’s get to half-time and speak about it’, but our concentration went on the night.

“The players are training as hard as they can and I have got no problem with them there. It is a lack of concentration on their part which has affected us, and it affects all players.

“If you have a clear mind you can become a better player.

Some people can’t do that and that is where the problem comes in. It does not make them a bad person, it is just a lack of concentration. They are working on it.

“Marcello Lippi said to me some people can’t take things in. He said ‘you tell a forward to make the right run and if you don’t get it right in four tries there is no point.’ He’s right. They are never going to be able to do it.”

Reading between the lines it could be their lack of concentration that could see many of the existing crop of players leaving Teesside.

With Strachan working hard behind the scenes on trying to strike a deal for Celtic’s Scott McDonald and Mc- Manus, while also targeting many others, he is likely to have further plans in mind for the summer.

In the mean time he is keen to ensure Middlesbrough do not follow up Tuesday’s 4-1 at Doncaster in the manner in which they followed up the 5- 1 win at QPR – in defeat.

“It encouraged me, the performance the other night, but I am worried that the same lads are just working, working all the time,” said Strachan, who hopes to have Robson fit after hamstring trouble.

“We have not got much to change it and freshen it up.”

The Boro boss has highlighted the attitudes of two of his new faces as examples of what he is looking for.

“I have told the players to take responsibility and the three guys from Scotland have been terrific,” said Strachan.

“Their work rate has been tremendous and both Flood and Robson have already bought houses, having only been here ten days, whereas some people take five months. The only thing they are interested in is making sure their lifestyle is good to play football.”