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No guarantee of places in team, warns Mowbray
Published : 29 Nov 2010 10:40:10
LEROY LITA and Scott McDonald might have shown a strength of character to deliver in freezing cold conditions, but neither have been assured of their place for this Saturday's trip to Coventry City. Manager Tony Mowbray remains unconvinced by any of the attacking partnerships and systems he has tried since taking over from Gordon Strachan six matches ago. Mowbray opted to keep Kris Boyd the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Scottish Premier League on the bench for the majority of Hull City's visit. But the Middlesbrough manager has not ruled out a return to the starting line-up for the Scottish striker at Coventry, even though both Lita and McDonald found the net in the 2-2 draw with Hull. And Mowbray is also considering the possibility of playing Marvin Emnes, who made his first start of the season on Saturday, further forward in the central striker role he adapted competently to during his loan at Swansea. Scott's a centre-forward, you want your centreforwards to score goals and he did that. He also works hard every week, so I'm pleased with him, said Mowbray. We've tried every combination of strikers in the last few weeks. Both scored against Hull, so we'll see what we'll do next week. We've got three front-line strikers and a few young boys behind them. Marvin can fill in up front so we have a few options. But for me the strikers have got to work hard, get hold of the ball and threaten the goal. I thought the two who played did that pretty well, but we will see. While Mowbray was heartened to see his forwards score it was Lita's first since mid- September and only McDonald's second in the league since the opening weekend he was also encouraged by the overall display. The Arctic conditions proved difficult and would have led to a postponement or an abandonment in most other grounds across the country, but Middlesbrough and Hull combined to deliver an entertaining fixture. Despite a promising performance from Middlesbrough, though, Mowbray knows his team now sit second from bottom and four points shy of safety in the Championship. We've got to take the positives out of this, he said. We hoped to get six points from the last two games and push up the table but that's not been the case. Both strikers scored and there was some decent play in difficult conditions. I thought there was a connection with the fans in the second half. It's important that the supporters see the team had a go. Hull boss Nigel Pearson, who captained Middlesbrough during Bryan Robson's days in charge, was also happy to settle for a point, even if he thought referee Phil Crossley should have brought a premature end to the game because of the snow. In fairness when the game started it wasn't ridiculous but I think during the game it was a bit difficult, said Pearson, whose side threw away a lead twice. I wasn't consulted by the referee, I don't know if Tony was. Because we got something out of it, I suppose we're both happy. At times it was a bit dangerous with the players slipping, even with the right footwear on. You'll have to ask the officials what the criteria was for keeping the game going. My main concern is the safety of the players.