Lita to be out for season?
Middlesbrough could be forced to continue their battle against relegation without the services of Leroy Lita for the remainder of the campaign.
The former Reading striker tore his hamstring during Saturday’s 0 – 0 draw with Portsmouth and could be out of action for as many as eight weeks.
This is the last thing that Middlesbrough needed after losing Kris Boyd to Nottingham Forest only a few days before. The striker options at the club are now limited to Scott McDonald who is currently the only fit recognised centre forward.
Tony Mowbray will now have to look to replace Lita in some shape or form over the coming weeks, something that will be easier said than done considering he has scored eight times since Christmas and been in good form.
Those placing sports bets note how one option for Mowbray is Marvin Emnes. The Dutchman is more used to a midfield role, but could be asked to move further forward in search of the goals that his team so desperately need.
Referring to the possible use of Emnes, Mowbray said: “I felt when he came on that our ball retention was better than it had been and we kept it for longer periods."
"He's a different type of footballer, half a striker, half a midfielder and technically very gifted, so the ball sticks with him.”
Mowbray clearly believes that holding the ball up front has been a problem for Middlesbrough this season, so perhaps the introduction of Emnes will be a blessing in disguise.
He can’t be relied upon to get Lita’s goals though, so it is time for everyone to start chipping in. Of course results are more important than high-scoring games, but if you can be comfortable in front of goal and have three or four players in scoring form, your chances of staying in this unpredictable division are highly increased.
As things stand, Middlesbrough are not expected by sports betting pundits to drop into the bottom three, but they still need to look over their shoulders.
Mowbray’s men currently sit seven points above the relegation zone and probably only need three more wins to assure safety.
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Perhaps Emnes can contribute to this in the absence of Lita as the team look to secure their Championship status as quick as possible and begin to look to a more positive future.