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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Middlesbrough Vs. Manchester United Match Preview

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate will welcome Brazilian midfielder Fabio Rochemback back from suspension for Sunday's Riverside Stadium clash with Manchester United.

But Southgate must cope without Egyptian striker Mido, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hernia problem. Robert Huth is also definitely still out with a foot injury.

Southgate may elect to give record signing Afonso Alves another start as he bids to come up to Barclays Premier League pace on a weekend which could finally see Boro safe from relegation.

Southgate has told his Middlesbrough stars they are fighting for their Riverside Stadium futures as they head into the last six games of their Barclays Premier League campaign.

Boro are likely to be mathematically certain of avoiding relegation if they pick up at least a point against United on Sunday but Southgate insists his side's season is far from over.

He said: "As a manager you are looking at all your players and staff to see how they approach the last six games. It will tell us who can take us forward and what changes need to be made.

"People will get opportunities in this period but we have got to finish the season strongly. We are not yet mathematically safe and we still have to get results to ensure that.''

Southgate sees no reason why his side cannot derail the title ambitions of Sir Alex Ferguson's men after being encouraged by the performance in the second half of their narrow defeat at Chelsea last week.

And he will urge his players to adopt a fearless approach and go out to attack a side who are still on a high after their magnificent Champions League win over Roma in midweek.

"I want us to start with the same mentality as we finished the game against Chelsea last week,'' he continued. "We have shown recently that we can compete against the top teams in the country.

"We've got to attack the game in a way that puts them on the back foot. We know what they're capable of but we certainly don't have an inferiority complex going into the game.

"We've got to try and hurt them because if we just sit back and try to stop United playing, they will still create chances and they are still capable of beating us.''

Gary Neville returns to the United squad for the first time in a year.

The club captain has recovered from a long-standing ankle problem and played 90 minutes for the reserves on Monday against Newcastle.

With Mikael Silvestre also fit, United have good cover for defender Nemanja Vidic, who is out for two to three weeks with a knee injury. Nani (thigh), Darren Fletcher (knee) and Louis Saha (hamstring) remain sidelined through injury.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists Owen Hargreaves has a big role to play as his team chases glory on two fronts.

Ferguson has dismissed reports claiming the former Bayern Munich midfielder had angered him because of poor timekeeping.

Instead he praised Hargreaves performance when he stepped off the bench in the 2-0 victory against Roma in the Champions League quarter-final first-leg match at the Stadio Olimpico.

The England international could face Middlesbrough on Sunday and Ferguson said: "In many ways he changed the pattern of the game for us the other night.

"He did a fantastic job when he came on and he will be involved again on Sunday.''

With six games remaining in the Barclays Premier League, United are in the driving seat but Chelsea and Arsenal could still overtake them.

Ferguson, however, remains single-minded, knowing they face a difficult game at Middlesbrough, who lost narrowly to Chelsea at the weekend.

He said: "It is important to do our own job well. With only two home games left, we have to make sure our form stays strong.

"We are approaching the finishing line. There is not long to go now but sometimes it is a lifetime away.

"At this time, nerves can play a part and form can play a part. We have to be consistent.

"We have to make sure we are at our best against Middlesbrough. There is no question they should have got something from the game with Chelsea.''

Middlesbrough Highlights

Manchester United will play against Middlesbrough on 5 April, 2008. Before we beat them, lets see whats the best they can give us by watching their highlights goals.