Hines continues recovery
SEB HINES stepped up his return from injury with 45 minutes against Harrogate Town last night. The Middlesbrough defender missed the first-team's trip to Slovenia to fully recover from operations on his jaw and ankle after a nasty injury against Ipswich Town last season. But Hines survived the first half of the game at Wetherby Road last night, where a Boro side largely made up of reserves saw off Town, who play in the Conference North, with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Ben Gibson and Matty Dolan. Centre-half Hines was an integral part of Tony Mowbray's team following the departure of David Wheater to Bolton, and Hines is confident that Boro can continue the sterling form they showed towards the end of the campaign when the season begins in earnest on August 6 against Portsmouth. We finished last season with a lot of confidence and hopefully the fans have a lot more confidence in us too, Hines said. All the lads now are just really excited for the start of the season. We're definitely going to be pushing for promotion and we've shown we can match any team in this league when we're at our best. The more the games we won the more the confidence flowed through the team. It just worked and when we found out we were safe from relegation we felt the shackles were off and we could play with more freedom and it showed in our results. Hines is expected to play a part in the first-team's preparations for the new season now they have returned to the UK, which continue on Saturday afternoon with a trip across the A66 to play Darlington. And the defender believes that confidence is key if Boro are to mount a serious challenge for Championship promotion this term. He said: The manager has brought a lot of confidence to the players. It's hard when you're sitting at the bottom of the table, thinking you don't belong here. It's just about self-belief the team hasn't changed a lot from what it was at the start of last season but he's brought a lot more confidence into our play. We're an attacking team now and at the end of last year we scored a lot of goals through just showing everybody what we can do and the freedom we have. Boro's defence is one of the youngest in the league, with the likes of Joe Bennett, Jason Steele, Hines, Matthew Bates and Tony McMahon all putting in performances that belied their relative youth last year. And Hines believes that the defence will only get stronger as time goes on. He said: We're a young team I think we're one of the youngest back fours in the league so we're learning as we go along and playing the amount of games I did last year has helped me enormously. Every game's going to be different and he'll put a team out to suit the team we're playing, so we know there will be changes. But it's the best run of games I've had and I've learned an awful lot and I feel like the team have learned a lot as well. We don't want to be in that bottom four fighting relegation, we want to be at the top. We've seen how Swansea and QPR and Norwich have done it and we want to be in that area. The fans come here to watch us entertain and the more goals we score, the more entertaining it is. The game's about scoring as many goals as we can, which is something we've struggled with in the past. But coming towards the end of last year more of those chances were turning into goals, so something must be working. It's definitely going to be exciting next year. We finished the season high in confidence and we can take that into next year and get to the top.
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