6:00am Friday 27th September 2013
By Richard Mason
TONY MOWBRAY has been frustrated in his efforts to bring defensive cover in for his Middlesbrough side, but believes that Ben Gibson is ready to step into his team.
Rhys Williams’ sending-off against Bournemouth on Saturday has left a gap in Mowbray’s defence, and the Middlesbrough manager will turn give Gibson his first start tomorrow at Loftus Road when Boro play Queens Park Rangers.
Mowbray has been working on bringing an extra defensive player in this week, not just to cover Williams’ suspension but to have further strength in depth before the Championship midweek programme gets under way in earnest next week.
But the Boro boss has had to admit defeat ahead of tomorrow’s game against the league pacesetters, and 20-year-old Gibson will line up alongside Jonathan Woodgate in defence.
“It seems like it’s the wrong week to ask managers questions, because of the Capital One Cup, it seems every PL team plays a weakened team in that competition,” said Mowbray.
“Every manager I spoke to was utilising their squad. It’s been frustrating, but it’s ongoing, I don’t think bringing someone in short term is necessary the answer, it might be for the next week or so as Rhys is suspended on Saturday, but we need another one anyway.
“Seb Hines has been injured, Woody’s played every game so far, but it will become more difficult, we need cover but unfortunately we’ve not had any success.”
Gibson, who Boro have loaned out to Tranmere, Plymouth and York in previous seasons, came on as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-3 draw at the Riverside Stadium, and Mowbray has no problem in slotting him straight into his side tomorrow.
“If you know Ben Gibson, you’ll know he’s always ready,” said Mowbray, whose side host Huddersfield Town on Tuesday evening.
“He’s a very driven young man. He’s been waiting for an opportunity, lets hope he grabs it with both hands and makes life difficult for Rhys. He’s a very determined lad with great characteristics for a central defender.”
Mowbray could move George Friend or Frazer Richardson inside with Justin Hoyte able to play in either full-back position, but the Middlesbrough manager would rather change one position than two.
He said: “Our options are short. Seb’s not ready. Rhys is suspended. It’s a long trip, what’s to say Woody doesn’t wake up not feeling good.
“We’re down to the bones. I’ve thought of lots of different permutations, what we might do and we’ve been working on it on the training ground. Let’s wait and see.
“I’m sure Ben will be fine, his character traits, his personality, his drive, his enthusiasm for the game will stand him in good stead and I’m sure he will do great.”
While Mowbray was initially reluctant to step into the loan market, he would not turn the opportunity down if a player improved his squad, having brought Josh McEachran, Sammy Ameobi and Ishmael Miller in on temporary transfers last season.
“The key is to keep trying to find good players,” he added. “We’re trying to add quality all the time. We still need bits of quality in certain areas of the pitch. We have to keep looking, trying to get better, yet we’re not Man City, we’re not Chelsea, we can’t go and buy ready made footballers, we’ve got to find bits of quality that can help our team at the right price.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group