Mowbray hoping for positive summer
Boro chief Tony Mowbray has claimed that his side’s form at the back end of the 2010/11 season can be the perfect catalyst for a promotion charge next term.
An outstanding 3-0 victory at promotion pretenders Cardiff City on Monday made it six wins in 11 for the Riversiders, who lie in a modest 14th position in the Championship table.
And the former Celtic and West Brom manager is adamant that the momentum created by his players can be carried through to next season, despite fears of a summer clear-out on Teeside.
"If the bulk of the squad is here next season there are lots of positives," Mowbray told BBC Radio Tees.
"There's enough optimism about results in the second half of the season that we could be in the mix."
Chairman Steve Gibson has promised fans that the club would be looking to build on the progress made by his club under the guideship of Mowbray.
"We are looking forward to the close season and a chance to regroup and reflect. We will have the summer to adjust the squad and have a think about what we need to change,” he said.
"We have got some momentum to take into the summer and we will look to improve the squad but we have to be realistic.”
Rumours are rife amongst football betting pundits that financial pressures may cost Mowbray several players from his squad, a list headed by Scottish striker Kris Boyd, who looks set to join Nottingham Forest on a permanent deal after impressing on loan at the City Ground.
Out-of-contract Julio Arca may not be offered a new deal as the club look to further trim the wage bill.
Mowbray has previously admitted that balancing the books is a priority at the Riverside, after Gibson sanctioned a high-spending summer in 2010 for managerial predecessor Gordon Strachan.
Meanwhile, young duo Jason Steele and Joe Bennett have been named in a provisional 40-strong England squad for this summer’s Under-21 European Championships.
The tournament, to be held in Denmark, runs from June 10-25. However, those placing regular football bets on international football should note that Three Lions boss Stuart Pierce will be forced to trim his squad to 23 names by June 1.
Bennett is another of the names which have been linked with a move away from Middlesbrough, with reported interest coming from Premier League giants Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland.
But the left-back has quashed reports that he may leave.
“I think I’ve got a lot to give back to Middlesbrough Football Club. They’ve been really good to me over the years I’ve been here,” he is quoted as saying in the Sunday Sun. “I’m happy here and ‘Boro are my number one priority.”