Down­ing hopes Tony de­parts point­less

Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Mid­dles­brough face Black­burn Rovers and for­mer man­ager Tony Mow­bray at the River­side to­mor­row as they bid to close the gap to the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spots.

Boro are fourth in the Cham­pi­onship, four points off sec­ond place Leeds United and five away from lead­ers Nor­wich City.

Tenth-place Rovers stand in their way at the River­side on Satur­day (KO 3pm).

Ste­wart Down­ing be­lieves Mow­bray de­serves a warm wel­come for all his ef­forts for Boro over the years, though he ad­mits he won’t mind if he leaves feel­ing sad this time round with Boro in need of the points.

Mow­bray lost his job at the River­side five years ago with Boro stuck in mid-ta­ble in the Cham­pi­onship.

Down­ing said: “He is a leg­end at this club for what he achieved dur­ing dif­fi­cult times. He played and stayed, he will get a very good re­cep­tion.

“And he should do be­cause of what he also achieved here as a man­ager. He was well thought of. He gave his all for this club when he played and man­aged and he should get a good re­cep­tion. Hope­fully he leaves a bit sad at the end of the game on Satur­day though.”

It comes as Boro boss Tony Pulis has urged striker Ash­ley Fletcher to show more self be­lief.

The 23-year-old striker has only made eight ap­pear­ances this term, with just four com­ing in the Cham­pi­onship.

He has three goals but they have all been in the EFL Cup. A Jan­uary exit could be on the cards for the for­mer Manch­ester United and West Ham United for­ward.

“I think the big thing with Fletch is his per­son­al­ity. He’s got to come out of him­self,” said Pulis.

“Tech­ni­cally, he’s a very, very gifted player, but it’s not tech­nique alone that gets you there.

“His per­son­al­ity, he’s got to be ... you can go through a train­ing ses­sion and not no­tice Fletch be­ing there and he’s got to grow.

“He’s go­ing to be a late, late de­vel­oper. As a kid he’s an ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous lad and tech­ni­cally he’s ex­cel­lent, we just want him to grab it.”

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