Strachan confident St Ledger is fine

20 November 2009 10:28
GORDON Strachan is confident Sean St Ledger will shrug off his World Cup heartbreak in order to help Middlesbrough get back to winning ways tomorrow.[LNB] St Ledger was a member of the Republic of Ireland team that failed to qualify for next summer's finals in South Africa in controversial fashion on Wednesday night when a Thierry Henry handball helped France achieve an extra-time play-off win in Paris.[LNB] The entire Irish squad were understandably crestfallen as they left the Stade de France, and Strachan is likely to seek St Ledger out for a private heart-to-heart at Middlesbrough's Rockliffe Park training ground this morning.[LNB] But with his own international career having featured its fair share of highs and lows, the Boro boss does not anticipate a problem when St Ledger returns to domestic duty in tomorrow's home game with Nottingham Forest.[LNB] Sean will be fine, said Strachan, who has no interest in returning to the international fold himself, despite speculation north of the border linking him with the vacant Scotland job.[LNB] Sometimes, you have to pick up players when they come back from international duty, but you usually know who those players are going to be.[LNB] I remember Gary McAllister coming back from Scotland a few times being really down, and you always knew that might be a problem. But I honestly don't think it will be an issue with Sean.[LNB] I thought he played fantastically well on Wednesday, and his team put in a fantastic performance. So I think everything's a positive, bar the obvious negative of not getting to the World Cup.[LNB] That's huge, but I think when you play in a game as big as that and give it your best shot, you'll still come away feeling good about yourself once the dust settles. I think he'll be feeling good about himself by the time the game comes around this weekend.[LNB] With Chris Riggott still not ready for a first-team return despite Tuesday's appearance for the reserves, St Ledger will line up alongside David Wheater as Boro look to improve on a run that has seen them lose four of their last five home matches.[LNB] Emanuel Pogatetz is expected to line up at left-back Boro have asked the Football League for official permission for the Austrian to wear a mask in order to protect his fractured cheekbone while striker Dave Kitson will make his Middlesbrough debut after joining on loan from Stoke City at the start of the week.[LNB] Kitson has hit the ground running since travelling to Teesside on Tuesday, and after first impressing Strachan as a 21-year-old rookie with Cambridge United, the flame-haired forward has finally been united with one of his biggest admirers.[LNB] I've always thought Dave was a very handy player, said Strachan. And certainly too good not to be playing.[LNB] I saw Dave years ago when he played for Cambridge against Millwall in a cup tie on a wet Tuesday night at The Den. I thought to myself, You're a good player', but at that stage Southampton were eighth in the Premier League, they were in the bottom league, and I thought, You need to get another move to somewhere in between before you move on'.[LNB] He's done that, and eventually we've got together now after I don't know how many years. I'm glad he's here.[LNB] How long he stays for remains to be seen, with Kitson insistent that his initial sixweek loan spell will not be extended.[LNB] Strachan has not discussed an extension with either the striker or his manager, Tony Pulis, but the Scotsman is hoping there could be room for manoeuvre.[LNB] We're under the impression that when the six weeks is up, Dave would go back, he said. But if something was to happen in those six weeks that says to Stoke or Dave that a permanent deal is possible and we want to do that, that would be great.[LNB] It works two ways. We can look at the player. We already have a good understanding of his ability, but in six weeks we can also look at the man, which is a huge thing in football.[LNB] It's good to find out if they're men as well as players.[LNB] It's also good for him to have a look at us.[LNB] There's been many occasions where a player's signed for a club and thought, I don't fancy this or I don't fancy that'. But Dave can have a look at us and find this is a terrific club to be at.[LNB] Middlesbrough will entertain Everton in the FA Youth Cup third round at Billingham Synthonia on Tuesday, December 8 (7pm).[LNB]

Source: Northern_Echo