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Jutkiewicz thinks he can hit it off with Marvin
TONY MOWBRAY still hopes to bring in a new striker before the start of the new season this weekend, but Lukas Jutkiewicz hopes his pre-season partnership with Marvin Emnes has reminded the manager of his quality.
There is greater onus on Jutkiewicz and Emnes following the departures of Scott McDonald to Millwall, while another attacking option in Ishmael Miller returned to Nottingham Forest after spending last season on loan at the Riverside.
That means Curtis Main is the only alternative, recognised centre-forward on Middlesbrough’s books ahead of Saturday’s visit of Leicester City, while Mustapha Carayol and Emmanuel Ledesma could both slot in to that role if asked to.
Mowbray has been trying hard to bolster his attacking options this summer and attempts to land Napoli’s Eduardo Vargas, Sunderland’s Danny Graham and former Real Madrid B front-man Javier Acuna have failed. Southampton’s Billy Sharp has also been mooted, although he is not thought to be affordable as things stand.
But after watching Jutkiewicz combine with Emnes for the Dutchman’s two goals at the Riverside against Bordeaux on Saturday, Mowbray admitted afterwards that he knows such a pairing can torment Championship defences.
Jutkiewicz is eager for their pre-season form to continue. He said: “Hopefully me and Marvin can keep up the same vein. We have tried to play well together and put thoughts in to the manager’s mind that we can do that. We have had to show we can do a job for him and hopefully we have done that.
“We know the manager‘s looking to add to the squad in that area, you just accept that and train as hard as you can. Ultimately you need to go out and try to win football games.
“The things that go on outside of the dressing room, in the boardroom, are not really things for players to worry about. It’s always nice to see new faces come in and strengthen the squad but you leave it up to other people - that’s their strength.”
Middlesbrough have lost 11 key members of the first team squad since the turn of the year and brought in just Dean Whitehead and Jozsef Varga to bolster midfield options. The reduction in squad size does not particularly worry Jutkiewicz, so long as there is sufficient quality to enjoy a better season.
The 24-year-old said: “Even though we don’t have the numbers we had last season I don’t think that will be too much of a negative, particularly if we can get the same eight or nine faces out there every week. You get to know each other a lot better. That can stand you in good stead for the season.
“We have to try to lift people really. The expectation was set at the turn of the year after a brilliant start to last season and we didn’t match it for whatever reason so we go again, we start again. That’s gone now and it’s up to us to get people excited again.”
Where Middlesbrough were well-fancied to do reasonably well last season, the spotlight is not necessarily on them this time around because of the way they ended up in 16th position after a dreadful start to 2013.
But Jutkiewicz thinks supporters should expect the unexpected in the Championship. He said: “It’s a hard league to call. If you look at this stage last season I think people would have talked about Wolves and Blackburn being up there challenging for promotion at the end. That wasn’t the case. It’s a difficult league to call.
“I feel good about things. Like anyone, I’m really excited for the start of the season. Last pre-season I got injured second day in so I missed the whole of pre-season and the start of the season. This time I’ve loved being involved. I feel raring to go for the kick-off. I can’t wait.”
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