BEN GIBSON is revelling in his blossoming relationship with Kenneth Omeruo, and is confident the youthful centre-half duo can enable Middlesbrough to overcome the continued absence of Jonathan Woodgate.
Woodgate will be forced to sit out today’s home game with QPR after a long-standing calf problem flared up again this week, meaning Gibson and Omeruo will be paired together at the heart of the back four for the fourth game in succession.
The duo are 21 and 20 respectively, but have combined to concede just one goal in the last three matches, and even that was a disputed effort against Nottingham Forest that saw Darius Henderson handle the ball before finding the back of the net.
With the likes of Bobby Zamora, Ravel Morrison, Modibo Maiga and Will Keane to call upon, promotion-chasing QPR will offer a considerable attacking threat later today, but Gibson is confident both he and Omeruo will be able to cope.
“It’s been great to play with Kenneth and I think we get on well,” he said. “We struck up a good partnership pretty much straight away, and our record when we’ve played together has been good.
“We’re enjoying playing with each other, and I think we complement each other pretty well. We’re both pretty athletic and I think that helps us. We get on well together on and off the pitch, and I think that’s helping. If we play together again this weekend, hopefully we’ll carry on the way we’ve been going.”
Raised in Nunthorpe, Gibson, who is the nephew of Middlesbrough chairman, Steve, is a lifelong Boro fan.
Having previously spent time on loan at Plymouth, York and Tranmere, he made his first Boro start in this season’s Capital One Cup defeat to Accrington Stanley.
Tony Mowbray’s departure might well have stinted his progress, but Aitor Karanka has given him a chance to establish himself in the first team and he has taken it with both hands.
“This is what I dreamed of doing, ever since I was a little boy,” said Gibson. “Ever since I can remember, all I wanted to do was play for Middlesbrough.
“I suppose the only difference is that when I imagined playing for Middlesbrough a young lad, I had visions of us winning league titles and cups. Hopefully, that’ll come.”
For the time being, an eighth home win of the campaign would suffice, with Gibson admitting the Teessiders need to start stringing some positive results together if their season is not to fizzle out.
“We need to start winning games, and winning games fast,” he said. “The gaffer has made that clear to us. Defensively, we’ve done well, but we need to start winning matches now.”