Boro boss seeking a spark
WITH the January transfer window just a couple of weeks away, Tony Mowbray admits he is looking for an attacking spark to help boost his side's climb up the table. Scoring goals has been a big problem for Boro since the season began with the Teessiders failing to score in eight games. Mowbray has made no secret of his desire to bring in a few of his own players once the window opens on January 1, but he knows he may have to sell before he can buy. Boro's defensive performances have improved in the last few games. They lost by the odd goal against Coventry, Millwall and Swansea and kept their first clean sheet in six games in last weekend's 1-0 win over Cardiff City. They hope to record another this evening as Boro travel to 16th-placed Doncaster Rovers, who lost 5-1 to Leicester City last week. But Mowbray knows it is going forward where his side need to improve if they are to kick on up the table and get away from the precarious position they find themselves in. He said: I think if you look at the goals conceded in the last few games, it isn't too bad. It's just the odd goal here and there and a good clean sheet at the weekend. Of course, every clean sheet is a team effort just as every goal is a team effort. But sometimes a little bit of individuality or genius or extra class in the final third is needed. Someone who can leave somebody on his backside or whip a good cross in is something every team needs and maybe that's one ingredient we're missing at the moment. Interestingly, somebody who could fill that role is ex- Boro man Jeremie Aliadiere, who has been training with the club while he completes his recovery from knee ligament damage, which he sustained while on trial with West Ham United in the summer. Boro offered the Frenchman full use of their rehabilitation and training facilities in order to gain full fitness, having spent three years at the Riverside. But a permanent deal could be on the cards after he completed an hour for Boro's reserves on Tuesday. Mowbray admits Aliadiere could be an option, but insists the two parties are yet to discuss a possible contract. At this moment we haven't got that far with Jeremie, Mowbray said. He's been with us since I came two months ago. He's here rehabilitating and he's now back on the grass training and he's done that for a few weeks now. I spoke to him and asked him if he wanted to progress by playing in a game, which he thought he was ready for, and I'm sure it will benefit him. We're not sitting down and talking about contracts yet, we're still trying to help him through his rehabilitation. I'll talk with him down the line about his thoughts. He might have other ideas where his future lies. He did fine for this club when he was here in the past but he might well think he's a Premier League player. When I feel he's ready and fit potentially to play in the Championship then I would have that discussion with him. Mowbray could also be boosted by the return of youngster Jonathan Franks, who made his comeback in the reserves' 1-0 defeat to Sunderland. The 20-year-old hasn't played this season after undergoing surgery on a recurring back problem. But the manager has been impressed by what he has seen of the player in training and believes he could offer something Boro have been lacking. From the evidence of what I've seen it's a big boost because he gives us something different, Mowbray said. He's very fast and energetic and enthusiastic. He has attributes that can put teams on the back foot because he is so dynamic. He's been out for a long time and you don't want to rush these kids back. At the right moment he will get back involved with the first team and some time down the line make an impact off the bench and get himself into the team. But he does bring a quality that we haven't got in abundance at this club. He can give us something different and all of a sudden we might have bags of pace and energy at the top end of the pitch.
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