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Mowbray: We can compete with top teams
THEY may have completed ten new signings over the summer and have an abundance of Premier League experience, but Tony Mowbray believes Middlesbrough can compete with the likes of Wigan this season.
The Boro boss takes his side to the DW Stadium tomorrow to face one of the strongest squads in the Championship, but he is confident they can cause Owen Coyle's men problems.
The Latics have been busy in the transfer market over the summer and have signed the likes of Grant Holt, Marc Antoine Fortune, James Perch and James McClean.
They set the stall out with an impressive win over Barnsley on the opening day of the season, but since then they have stuttered, losing to newly-promoted Bournemouth and drawing with Doncaster Rovers.
With more or less a full team of new faces on board, Mowbray admits playing the Latics now may give Boro a chance to catch them off guard, but insists his side will have to be at their best to come away from the DW Stadium with anything.
"I think with the quality they possess and the ten new signings they've made, they'll have ambitions to go straight back up," Mowbray said, who will assess Jason Steele's fitness today. "Maybe it's a good time to play them. But if they click on any given day, as they did on the opening day, then it will be hard.
"They went to Bournemouth and were beaten and then scrambled a draw against Doncaster. Let's see what this Sunday brings. We have to be orgranised, resilient, hard to play against, ask questions of them. They've got some talented players that have played in the Premier League."
Mowbray is still looking to add new players to his squad, but unlike Coyle, the Boro boss doesn't have the luxury of being able to go out and spend millions on players.
Fellow relegated side Queens Park Rangers have also been able to splash the cash, but while Boro aren't able to compete on that front, Mowbray insists the competition isn't any greater than the seasons before.
He said: "You see players like Scott Parker and Jermain Defoe linked with QPR. That is a different level of footballer.
"The challenge is for every team to go and play them and play with that extra bit of drive.
"Ultimately quality wins you games and will see you through on any given day. Is the test any greater than it was last year? I think outside of QPR, it will be very much the same.
"I think QPR could potentially find they have too much quality. Wigan have invested and have some very good players. If you can finish above them then you will be promoted.
"The rest, I don't think there's been huge investment, apart from maybe Forest, who have new foreign owners, but let's wait and see. There's been a fair bit of upheaval. A lot of managers have changed and a lot of clubs have changed direction."
The Teessiders will be looking to record their second away win of the season tomorrow, something they didn't achieve until October last season.
Mowbray's men struggled on their travels during the last campaign, managing only five wins away from the Riverside last season and the manager admits that needs to change.
He said: "We need to find a balance between our home and away form. We've got the first win on the road, but we need to do it regularly and put that together with good form at home.
"If we'd been able to put two half seasons together we'd have won the league by a mile in the last two. We have to try and put it all together.
"But you have to understand you can't win every game on the road in this league. In the group's mind, the defeats will come along but it's how we react to that and get ready to go again, win the next game, then the next and maybe draw one along the line.
"We've got to try and put an unbeaten run together. Three wins in this league and you find yourself right up there.
"Wigan is tough. If we get beat there will be negativity and yet if we win we will be flying. You've got to get 15 games in before you know whether you're going to be a good side. Let's put it together."