Tag Archives: middlesbrough

England training at St George"s Park: Joe Hart and Roy Hodgson ahead of San Marino

I've not been brilliant, says England keeper Hart… but U17s disagree as Sportsmail joins juniors to beat lockdown and take sneak peak at Hodgson's training sessionWatch video of youngsters at the senior squad's trainingPlus watch Scott Parker's and Joe Hart's press conferences

, as Ben Foster returned to the England fold to challenge for the No 1 jersey.

And although he welcomes the return of West Brom’s Foster after a two-year break from international football, Hart is determined to try and keep hold of the goalkeeping jersey.

'Is Foster good enough to push me Yes, but I’ve felt that every time I’ve come away with England,’ said Hart. 'My job when I was first involved was to really push hard. We all train like we are going to play and push each other and it’s really good.

Senior moment: England's U17s watch Roy Hodgson's squad train ahead of their qualifier against San Marino on Friday

Senior moment: England's U17s watch Roy Hodgson's squad train ahead of their qualifier against San Marino on Friday

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NextGen: England U17s squad members

NextGen: England U17s squad members from left – Connor Ogilvie (Tottenham), Alex Gilliead (Newcastle), Alex Kiwomya (Chelsea), George Green (Everton), Bryn Morris (Middlesbrough)

VIDEO: England U17s watch Roy Hodgson's behind-closed-doors session…

How the stand: England's group

How the stand: England's group

'If anyone of the three played, then we’d be in a strong position.'

However, Hart will not give up his position easily.

He said: 'I’m in that privileged spot at the moment. I didn’t dream of this spot because I didn’t think it would happen.

'I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, I love it, I’ll keep working and training hard if there are no keepers or 1,000 keepers.

Group H: Fixtures

Group H: Fixtures

'That No 1 spot is one I want to keep and last summer (Euro 2012) was a real high point in my career.
“It was one of the best footballing things I’ve done. To play in a tournament like that is a dream.'

Hart concedes himself and City have struggled to maintain last season’s standards, but he still refuses to give up the title to Manchester United.

He said: 'My season has not been brilliant. It’s had its good times but it’s football. It’s what I love doing.

'I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been tough, things haven’t always gone my way. I’m enjoying the fight and getting back in there.

'Sometimes you take knocks, that’s football, you take opinions, but you’ve got to be strong.

'I feel strong, good, that I’m doing the right things and hopefully I can have a good end to the season.

'I understand you have your great nights and sometimes things don’t go the way you want. That’s the way it is.

Playing for keeps: England's goalkeepers (from left) Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster during a training session in Burton Upon Trent

Playing for keeps: England's goalkeepers (from left) Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster during a training session in Burton Upon Trent

'I’m my strongest critic but I would never bury myself. It’s pretty obvious when you make a mistake as a keeper, you don’t need to dwell on it too long. It’s out there.'

Hart added: 'With City, it’s not been last year that’s for sure. It’s been tough. We are not in the position we want to be in.

'We remain focused and hard on the case of what we need to do. We are still in one cup, a little further away than we would like to be in terms of the league.

'But we need to nail down that second spot and in doing that it will push us to really go for the title as well.

'You can’t not go for it. It’s a long way off but we’ve got an awful lot to fight for and it’s a big couple of months for us.'

Meanwhile, the World Cup fires are burning brightly for Scott Parker now he has finally recovered from the achilles injury that threatened his international future.

The Tottenham man returned from Euro 2012 requiring surgery on a long-term problem.

Joe Hart on Rio Ferdinand's England absence and the return of Ben…

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VIDEO: Scott Parker on his delight to be back fit and firing…


Great Scott: Parker (second right), Tom Cleverley (right), Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole (left) warm u

Great Scott: Parker (second right), Tom Cleverley (right), Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole (left) warm up at St George's Park ahead of the World Cup qualification double-header

The boss: England's manager Roy Hodgson

The boss: England's manager Roy Hodgson

The operation kept him out until December, but after making 13 successive starts for Spurs, Parker is feeling good again.

And he is starting to train his sights on the greatest show on earth in Brazil next year.

'Now I am amongst it again, the fire rumbles in my belly to get there for Brazil,' said Parker.

'I have not had many massive injuries in my career but the ones you do have give you that hunger again.

'I need to take things one step at a time but, now I am in the squad, if I get my chance I need to take it.'

Midway through his first major tournament last summer, Parker did outline a theory that it could be his last.

Still only 32, it seemed an extreme assessment given his status as England’s most natural defensive midfielder.

Yet part of Parker’s thinking may have been formulated by the knowledge his troublesome Achilles injury, which flared up towards the end of last season, was going to need sorting out.

And, as the former West Ham man is acutely aware, nothing can be taken for granted in the recovery stages from such significant surgery.

'I didn’t really have any pain during Euro 2012 but there was a slight problem with my Achilles during the summer and in the end I needed to have an operation,' said Parker. 'And if you ask any player when they have been out for some time, doubts do cross your mind about when you are going to come back.

'There are long days when you are feeling unfit and everything seems a struggle. Then negative thoughts do set in.

'But once you are out of pain and on the road back towards playing again, your focus changes.'

Although Parker has not featured for his country since that disappointing penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy in Kiev last June, the experience of being in Poland and Ukraine has fuelled a passion to be part of another major tournament with England.

'I had a fantastic time at the Euros,' he said. 'It was a great experience for me and it did explode at quite a late age but I would love to be involved in a World Cup squad.

'A lot can happen between now and then. If I can stay fit and maintain my form hopefully I will have a chance.'

Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 0: Curtis Main secures victory for Tony Mowbray"s side

Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 0: Main is Boro's hero as fans turn on Warnock

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

22:31 GMT, 12 February 2013

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UPDATED:

02:03 GMT, 13 February 2013

A boy signed on a free transfer from Darlington proved to be Middlesbrough's Main man.

Curtis Main's perfectly placed header eight minutes from time gave Middlesbrough their first win in six League games and their first victory on Teesside over Leeds in 21 years.

But the 20-year-old, who scored for the second game running since recovering from injury, was sent off by petty referee Keith Stroud in the dying minutes.

Helpless: Paddy Kenny's best efforts could not prevent defeat for Leeds

Helpless: Paddy Kenny's best efforts could not prevent defeat for Leeds

Main was booked twice, for encroaching and handball, and looked as astonished as his manager.

Mowbray said: 'The ref got it wrong.
It was not deliberate handball in a million years. Curtis has amazing
qualities and yet is such a young player who hasn't been educated.

But he is potentially a special
talent. Tonight he is disappointed, frustrated, annoyed and angry but he
got us a great winner.'

Leeds fans chanted 'Warnock, time to
go' at boss Neil Warnock, who reacted with sarcastic applause. He is
refusing to quit and blamed the defeat on his strikers following Luciano
Becchio's departure to Norwich.

Ross McCormack fluffed Leeds's best
chance and Warnock said: 'We have missed three open goals in three games
and all hell breaks loose. 'Unless I run on the pitch and put the
chances in I don't know what more I can do.'

Under fire: The pressure continues to grow on Leeds boss Neil Warnock

Under fire: The pressure continues to grow on Leeds boss Neil Warnock

Rhys Williams should have put
Middlesbrough in front with a fourth-minute back-post volley after a
Grant Leadbitter free-kick put him clear, but Leeds started to take
control after that.

David Norris hit wide and then warmed
the palms of Jason Steele after some neat interplay between McCormack and Steve Morison, while the in-form Luke Varney also drove
away from goal after cutting in from the left.

The home side managed to steady themselves somewhat after that, but were so nearly the architects of their own downfall 28 minutes in.

Paul Green played a hopeful long ball forward that was Steele's all day long but he got his feet wrong and slipped, leaving McCormack with an open goal six yards out. The Scotland international dallied, though, and when he got a shot away, Jonathan Woodgate had recovered sufficiently to deny his former club on the line.

That proved to be Leeds' last chance of the first half and they should have been behind by the time the interval came.

Although not as clear a chance as McCormack's, Faris Haroun got clean through in injury time off Josh McEachran's defence-splitting pass, but Paddy Kenny was quickly off his line to deny him on the edge of the area.

Matchwinner: But Curtis Main was sent off minutes after scoring

Matchwinner: But Curtis Main was sent off minutes after scoring

The first half had hardly been an end-to-end affair but it was in comparison to the start of the second, which was attritional at best.

Woodgate provided the best moment, showing impressive pace and awareness to block off McCormack's run to goal, but as has often been the case in the 33-year-old's career, injury forced him off midway through the half.

Leadbitter, the game's other class act, then curled an edge-of-the-box free-kick just wide of Kenny's right-hand post and that brought about a mini period of drama with Leeds forced to defend for their lives with 17 minutes left.

Relieved: Tony Mowbray watched his side win for the first time in 2013

Relieved: Tony Mowbray watched his side win for the first time in 2013

Kenny did well to deny Leadbitter down to his right and then combined with Sam Byram to deny Williams on the follow-up, with the keeper then darting across his line to pouch a McEachran header that should have been a forgone conclusion.

Boro seemed keen to take the initiative, though, and by bringing on Miller they took it. With nine minutes left his cross hung enough for Main to put a header back across Kenny's goal and into the top right-hand corner.

He was then dismissed by Keith Stroud for a combination of dissent and kicking the ball away but, even though Steele had to deny Habib Habibou, Boro were able to hold on without him.

Henning Berg sacked by Blackburn

Berg sacked by Blackburn after just TWO months as Ewood Park crisis deepens

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UPDATED:

13:28 GMT, 27 December 2012

Henning Berg has been sacked by Blackburn after only two months in the job at Ewood Park.

The former Rovers player replaced Steve Kean in September but has not been able to get the club firing since taking over.

Blackburn lie 17th in the table and Indian owners Venky's were hoping for a promotion push after investing in the summer.

Tim Sherwood, Tottenham's technical co-ordinator, is one of the names being considered for the vacancy.

Out: Henning Berg watched his side lose 1-0 at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day

Out: Henning Berg watched his side lose 1-0 at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day

Berg's impact

When Kean left the club were third. Today, they are 17th.

A year before he took the job, Berg said it would be 'madness' to work under Venky's and that 'no manager with credibility' would take the job on.'

Maybe he should have taken his own advice.

Games played: 10
Games won: One
Games lost: Six
Games drawn: Three
Goals scored: 10
Goals against: 18
Highest victory: 4-1 v Peterborough, November 17
Worst defeat: 4-1 v Cardiff, December 7
Win percentage: 10 per cent

Former boss Kean resigned at the end of September, claiming his position at the club was untenable.

But when he left, Blackburn were third and had only sunk to new depths under Berg.

Reports were circulating in the Indian
press on Thursday morning, with Venky's chief Balaji Rao saying: 'We
have not been doing well and dropping points and losing matches quite
often.'

Berg paid the price for Blackburn's awful form by becoming the second boss to be fired in the space of 24 hours after Nottingham Forest axed Sean O'Driscoll.

A Blackburn statement read: 'Blackburn Rovers FC has announced the departure of manager Henning Berg, assistant manager Eric Black, first team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms with immediate effect.

'This decision has been taken following a very disappointing sequence of results. The club thanks the four men for their efforts and wishes them every success for the future.'

Pressure had been building at the
club and just a couple of weeks ago Berg had stormed out of the
Christmas party after he was made to wear a stocking on his head and
dance on stage.

It was
hoped the party for the players and more than 200 staff in a suite at
Ewood would lift morale but it backfired spectacularly.

Although Blackburn's owners have been
criticised heavily since taking over in Lancashire, they believe they
are right to act in a bid to halt the club's slide.

When the DJ decided to play some games, one of the club’s executives volunteered Berg to go up on stage.

The
43-year-old Norwegian reluctantly wore the Christmas stocking but grew
visibly angry and uncomfortable when he was made to dance as well.

Gone so soon: Berg was only appointed two months ago

Gone so soon: Berg was only appointed two months ago

Stunned

Tottenham keeper and former Blackburn hero Brad Friedel tweeted:

'I can't believe what I'm seeing going on at Blackburn. Giving a mgr 2 months I guess football never ceases to amaze at times.'

The final straw came when someone attempted to put a Michael Jackson wig on his head. Berg ripped off the stocking and left the stage.

Meanwhile, Rovers Action Group secretary Mark Fish admitted his 'great delight' at the decision to let Berg go.

He told Sky Sports News: 'He was a fantastic player for the club, but for whatever reason it just didn't work out for him here.

'It's difficult to say what. Perhaps the expectations from the fans, outside influences maybe. Henning Berg just didn't have the nous to get the job done I don't know.

'He just couldn't get the team playing, he couldn't get them fighting. But someone needs to come out now and hold their hands up.

'There were a lot of people involved in the process. A lot of good, better candidates were overlooked for this position.

'But they (Venkys) seemed determined to bring in an ex (Blackburn) player and it just hasn't worked out the way they had hoped.

'Why didn't Berg bring in his own coaching staff It was my understanding that he would bring his own people in with him.

'But as it ended up he was left with Steve Kean's men to help out. Someone has to come out and explain why this has happened.'

When asked about the remainder of the season, Fish was adamant that Rovers can still achieve their goal of promotion back to the Premier League.

'Do I think we can do it Yes. Absolutely, we've got the ability in the squad to still get the job done. You've only got to look at Reading last season.

'We need to have one of those runs. Also, the stands are empty. We need to be picking up results and getting people back through the gates again.'

Gary Parkinson, who suffers from locked-in syndrome, home for Christmas

After 27 months in care, Gary Parkinson, the former Blackpool coach who suffers from locked-in syndrome, is home for Christmas

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 23 December 2012

Nine-year-old Sophie Parkinson took a deep breath and recited her line: 'I won't be cooking my turkey until Christmas Day because I'll be too busy.'

No doubt more significant words were spoken during Sacred Heart Primary's carol service but few resonated so powerfully with the congregation. In their midst was Sophie's father Gary Parkinson, the reason why this Christmas is so special to her.

The former Blackpool coach has locked-in syndrome. A stroke in 2010 left him paralysed and needing 24-hour residential care. That is until last week, when he returned home permanently.

Debbie Parkinson

Gary Parkinson

Family support: Deborah has been a tower of strength for Gary (right) who suffers from locked-in syndrome

That night in Sacred Heart Church, surrounded by his family, Gary's head lifted to listen intently to his daughter's soft voice. His eyes were bright, welling with tears of pride.

There could be no words, they weren't needed, it was just enough for wife Deborah to recognise the scale of the step forward they had taken.

It has been 27 arduous months since Gary, once a dynamic full-back with Middlesbrough, Preston and Burnley, had a bleed on the brain that crushed his brainstem. His body shut down but his mind and soul were very much alive. He was 42.

The road to recovery as a patient at Priory Highbank Centre for neuro-rehabilitation, near Bury, has been tinted dark and light. The concert marked a new beginning: one the family feared they would never see.

On target: Parkinson enjoyed successful stints at Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston (pictured)

On target: Parkinson enjoyed successful stints at Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston (pictured)

'Carol services can be emotional at the best of times,' says Deborah, 'but that was a real tear-jerker. The hymns and carols all seemed to carry greater meaning.

'We've had outings before while Gary was at the centre but this was a big step for us as a family and Gary coped really well. He was so proud of Sophie and everyone there could see that.'

Deborah, a former childminder, shatters the stereotype of a footballer's wife. She is irrepressible. She excuses her croaky voice. It's not down to emotion, but a cold.

Black and white: Gary in a family portrait with Deborah, son Luke and daughters Chloe and Sophie

Black and white: Gary in a family portrait with Deborah, son Luke and daughters Chloe and Sophie

She has beaten red tape and financial obstacles to get her husband of 22 years back to the family home near Bolton. Now a revamp and two-storey extension mean her dream, or at least part of it, has come true. That first night for the reunited family was one to savour.

'After all we have been through, it was just such a lovely, lovely night,' says Deborah. 'It was like a new baby coming home. We were all so excited to have him back where he belongs.'

Gary uses a Tobii, an innovative communication box, to get his message across. A pad, about 12 inches across, reads his eye movement to pick out letters and browse the internet.

Son Luke, 19, a sports journalism student at Leeds University, has already set up dad's favourite sports sites. Eldest daughter Chloe, 16, a tower of strength for her mother, hung on dad's every word.

'We have an armchair next to his bed and we chatted and chatted like a normal family again,' says Deborah.

'The girls made him laugh. It was getting late and every time they said they were going to bed because they had school the next day, he'd mark out the words: “Stay up!” Chloe wanted to act as second carer so ended up staying up to make sure he went to sleep soundly. She went to bed in the early hours.

'We were all nervous about what would happen but once he settled he was fine. He said something lovely, “I feel relaxed”. I just stared at him, he looked so healthy.

'It was a wonderful feeling. A night I'd only dreamed about for two years and thought would never come.'

A trip to the cinema to see Nativity 2 is the family's next planned outing but for now they are just glad to have Gary home.

Back home: The football fraternity have looked out for Parkinson

Back home: The football fraternity have looked out for Parkinson

Although Gary can't eat, he likes to sit at the dining table while everyone else has dinner, a tradition the family has always upheld.

The Tobii box allows him to join in with the banter he honed in dressing rooms as he cracks jokes and chips in with answers to the odd quiz question. He is also something of a backseat driver, where his sense of humour shines through.

'He always said I drove too fast,' Deborah says. 'His eyes go up when I ask him, “Am I driving OK” So I tend to do about 50 or 60 on the motorway when he's with me.'

Gary's care at Priory Highbank was around the clock and cost 4,000 a week. At home, seven nurses care for Gary, two per day, on a rota. Deborah is also a carer.

As she says, 'I've always been one to ask: “How does this work”' From an early stage, she sought inspiration in the words and actions of other sufferers.

One, Kate Allatt, recovered fully and visited Gary to prove 'the impossible was do-able'. Inevitably, downsides have come. Another sufferer, Tony Nicklinson wanted the right to die. His death in August from pneumonia and starvation was sorely felt in the Parkinson household.

'But that was Tony's choice,' says Deborah. At times, the odds seem stacked against them. Yet, like a true football underdog, Deborah won't allow her husband to be beaten.

Positivity remains her motto for the man who once cleaned Andy Gray's boots as an Everton apprentice and thankfully the football fraternity has been there for them.

The PFA have helped financially and chief executive Gordon Taylor visited often during Gary's physiotherapy.

Everton manager David Moyes popped round last week with an invitation to watch training and Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has asked Gary to scout for him, studying a DVD of players and providing reports on each.

Old team-mates have been frequent visitors. Best man at their wedding, ex-Middlesbrough striker Lee Turnbull, and former Preston and Burnley midfielder David Eyres have been constant sources of strength. The support has been overwhelming at times, especially from the local community.

Deborah adds: 'People want to stop you and offer support but I have good friends who know well enough when not to ask and just say “Come and have a cup of tea”.

'We don't want people to feel sorry for us. Everything has to be positive. Gary is a fighter. The one thing about neuro damage is that no-one can predict how it turns out and you have to hope. 'Who knows what can happen'

For information visit GaryParky.co.uk. Donations are welcome to the Gary Parkinson Trust Fund.

Swansea 1 Middlesbrough 0: match report

Swansea 1 Middlesbrough 0: Hines' late own goal agony ends Boro resistance

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UPDATED:

23:38 GMT, 12 December 2012

Swansea City are through to the Capital One Cup semi-final after a late Seb Hines own goal cruelly ended Middlesbrough’s long journey to Wembley.

This was Boro’s 12th straight away fixture in the League Cup — an array of trips amounting to roughly 4,000 miles over the years — and they had their chances to win it.

But then, after 81 minutes, fortune conspired against Hines. He had just saved Boro with a last-ditch tackle on Michu, but from the resulting Jonathan De Guzman corner he headed into his own net under pressure from Garry Monk.

Winner: Middlesbrough's Seb Hines (left) scores an own goal to send Swansea through

Winner: Middlesbrough's Seb Hines (left) scores an own goal to send Swansea through

Match facts

Swansea: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Chico, Monk, Davies, Dyer, Britton, de Guzman, Shechter (Moore 55), Routledge (Ki 65), Michu.

Subs Not Used: Cornell, Bartley, Graham, Rangel, Agustien.

Goal: Hines 81 og.

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Bikey (Halliday 64), Hines, Friend, Haroun (Smallwood 65), Leadbitter (Miller 82), Bailey, Ledesma, Jutkiewicz, McDonald.

Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Thomson, Emnes, Parnaby.

Booked: Leadbitter, Bailey.

Att: 15,048

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

The result puts Swansea into their first major semi-final since the 1964 FA Cup, but those are the kind of thoughts Michael Laudrup will be trying his hardest to suppress. The Swansea manager said: ‘I told them at half time, “I know you all want that final, but we are too tense. All of you want to do so well, it is hurting you. Do it like you are used to doing it”.’

That Middlesbrough looked good was no great surprise. They are third in the Championship and fielded close to a full strength side, Tony Mowbray making five changes to the team that beat Peterborough 3-2 on Saturday.

Swansea, meanwhile, had something of a point to prove. Their 4-3 loss to Norwich on Saturday was their first in seven games and ‘intensity’ has been the buzzword at the Liberty Stadium ever since.

They were so far off their usual pace in falling 3-0 behind at the weekend that Laudrup used his programme notes to spell out his thoughts on players who ‘start to believe’ their hype. His feeling was that too many operated at ‘90 per cent’ and his remedy last night was to recall Leon Britton, who missed the Norwich game with a knee injury.

Gutted: Middlesbrough players are dejected after conceding a goal but Michu celebrates (below)

Gutted: Middlesbrough players are dejected after conceding a goal but Michu celebrates (below)

Swansea City's Michu celebrates

Swansea’s mini-marvel is vital to the team’s tempo and everything that goes with it. Michu gets the goals and credit, but Britton is the most essential cog in a passing machine that has shocked the Premier League for 16 months. He was close to his best at times in the first half, hassling and harrying, springing attacks and deciding when to slow the game down. When Swansea had their first clear chance after 34 minutes, Britton was at the heart of it.

He exchanged passes with Wayne Routledge, and then Michu, before drilling one out wide to Ben Davies. Davies whipped over a cross which Itay Shechter headed into the path of Nathan Dyer, but the winger, clean through, failed to react quickly enough and the ball clattered off his knees and into the hands of Jason Steele.

Collision: Swansea City's Luke Moore is tackled by Middlesbrough's Andre Bikey

Collision: Swansea City's Luke Moore is tackled by Middlesbrough's Andre Bikey

Middlesbrough had chances of their own during an impressive start. George Friend was the architect of their first, out-muscling De Guzman in the Swansea area after 20 minutes and rolling a pass back into the path of Grant Leadbitter, whose shot to the bottom left corner was blocked by Gerhard Tremmel.

Lukas Jutkiewicz then carved out another opportunity, bursting through the middle and playing in Leadbitter. He had space to delve further into Swansea’s area but pulled the trigger early and shot straight at Tremmel.

‘It was frustrating,’ said Mowbray. ‘On the balance, it was tight, fine margins win and lose. We could easily have won 1-0 rather than lost 1-0.

Heads: Michu (left) challenges for the ball as Swansea battle to victory over Middlesbrough

Heads: Michu (left) challenges for the ball as Swansea battle to victory over Middlesbrough

Boro started the second half well, Justin Hoyte and Leadbitter coming close, but Swansea’s increased fluency told. Laudrup brought Ki Sung-Yeung on for Routledge after 64 minutes and his impact was almost immediate, the Korean bursting down the left and playing a pass square to De Guzman. The Dutchman’s low shot was comfortably handled by Steele.

De Guzman then hit the bar in the 73rd minute with a 25-yard free-kick, before Ki created a good chance for Michu with a through-ball from midfield. Hines put in a superb block but had to suffer the unfortunate consequences.

‘It’s fantastic to reach the semi-finals,’ Laudrup added. ‘I asked all my players who had played in a cup final and no one had. At the end there was a lot of relief and I think everyone can be proud. Now we want the next step and want to go to the final. Whoever we play it will be very special.’

Tough luck: Middlesbrough are left to rue missing out on a place in the last four

Tough luck: Middlesbrough are left to rue missing out on a place in the last four

Tough luck: Middlesbrough are left to rue missing out on a place in the last four

Middlesbrough fans travel free to Swansea as Capital One pick up the bill

No more fares! Sponsors pay for Boro fans' Capital One Cup trip to Swansea as Mowbray's men hit the road for 12th straight tie

By
Adam Crafton

PUBLISHED:

15:44 GMT, 10 December 2012

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UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 10 December 2012

Middlesbrough supporters travelling to Swansea for Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup clash will have their journey paid for by the competition sponsors – as a reward for being drawn away from home an incredible 12 consecutive times.

Boro sit third in the Championship under manager Tony Mowbray and their fans have snapped up seats to climb on board the official supporters’ coaches for the 656-mile round trip to Swansea’s Liberty Stadium.

The remarkable run has taken Boro fans all over the country they will have accumulated over 4,000 miles to support their side in the League Cup after the trip to Wales.

Away day: Ishmael Miller (right) scored the winner at Peterborough on Saturday

Away day: Ishmael Miller (right) scored the winner at Peterborough on Saturday

Boro's travels in the League Cup

Sep 23, 2008
Man United 3-1 Middlesbrough – 242 miles

Aug 25, 2009
Nottm Forest 2-1 Middlesbrough – 262 miles

Aug 10, 2010
Chesterfield 1-2 Middlesbrough – 218 miles

Aug 24, 2010
Millwall 2-1 Middlesbrough – 514 miles

Aug 9, 2011
Walsall 0-3 Middlesbrough – 348 miles

Aug 24, 2011
Peterborough 0-2 Middlesbrough – 394 miles

Sep 20, 2011
Crystal Palace 2-1 Middlesbrough – 528 miles

Aug 11, 2012
Bury 1-2 Middlesbrough – 224 miles

Aug 28, 2012
Gillingham 0-2 Middlesbrough – 586 miles

Sep 25, 2012
Preston Ed 1-3 Middlesbrough – 242 miles

Oct 30, 201
Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough – 35 miles

Dec 12, 2012
Swansea v Middlesbrough – 656 miles

Total Travel = 4,249 miles

Along the way they visited the likes of Manchester United and Chesterfield since their last home tie in the competition – against Yeovil in August 2008.

‘Boro’s run of away games is unprecedented in the history of the competition, and as the sponsor of the Capital One Cup we wanted to reward their loyal fans for yet another journey on the road,’ said Michael Woodburn, chief marketing officer at Capital One.

Boro defender Jonathan Woodgate praised the sponsors for lifting the financial burden on the fans saying: ‘This is a great gesture from Capital One and I’m sure that our fans will be very grateful.

‘Being drawn away 12 times in a row has been hard for our fans but they’ve never wavered in their support for the team.’

By the time that Boro fans return home from Swansea, they will have travelled a total of 4,249 miles over the past four years.

And they’ll be hoping they can go all the way on the road to Wembley this season…

With Capital One covering the transport, Boro fans have the opportunity to splash out on some of the finer attractions that Swansea has to offer…..

The Gower Peninsula

The Gower’s Peninsula is home to the Oystermouth Castle which sits proudly on the hill in Mumbles, overlooking Swansea Bay.

The castle, which dates back to the 12th century, was the residence of the Marcher Lords of Gower, and often came under siege from sections of the Welsh population.

A 1949 Act declared Gower as ‘An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

The National Showcaves Centre for Wales

Voted as Britain’s Finest Natural Wonder, this centre boasts three caves – Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave.

Visitors have the opportunity to walk through caverns carved out millions of years ago and walk behind 40-feet tall waterfalls in the Dome of St Paul’s.

It would certainly be a place to take the kids, as the centre also maintains the world’s largest collection of life-sized dinosaur models.

And don’t forget the essentials…

For the pre-match drinks, fans are advised to go to Wind Street in the city centre, with bars such as Yates, The Bank Statement and the No Sign Bar particular favourites…

Inside the stadium, Boro fans can purchase…

Pints of Carling (3.20) and Worthington (3.20)

Pies (1.80)

The match-day programme (3)

Travelling to watching Boro away from home (when they win)… Priceless!

Lucas Leiva makes comeback for Liverpool Under 21s

Lucas closing in on Liverpool comeback as midfielder plays 45 minutes for Under 21s

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UPDATED:

16:41 GMT, 23 November 2012

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has stepped up his fitness battle after coming through 45 minutes of action for the Reds Under-21 team.

The Brazilian has been sidelined with a thigh injury since August 26, his second serious injury in a year after he missed a large portion of the previous campaign with a knee problem.

But on Friday he showed the touch and positional sense of before as he impressed in the first half of the match against Middlesbrough.

On the mend: Lucas Leiva in action for the Liverpool youngsters on Friday afternoon

On the mend: Lucas Leiva in action for the Liverpool youngsters on Friday afternoon

Speaking before that match, boss Brendan Rodgers revealed he hopes to be able to call on Lucas for the visit of Southampton at Anfield on December 1.

He said: 'I think after today and a good week's training, next week he should be ready.

'He'll be a big player for us. He's got a wonderful football brain, knows the ideas we're trying to implement here and he's a real good man.

Back in the mix: Lucas could be in line to face Southampton in early December

Back in the mix: Lucas could be in line to face Southampton in early December

'He's worked very hard. He was unfortunate that he got the injury right at the start of the season having worked so hard on his knee, but indirectly his movement is a lot better now with his knee. He's had extra working time to prepare that and now he looks really strong and fit.'

Rodgers added: 'We've got good players in there. Lucas is a top professional, an international player, and he's got good experience in this country.

'He knows exactly what we're trying to do, so when you've got someone of that calibre coming back, it certainly makes you better.'

Stewart Downing in Middlesbrough loan return link

Boro's race against time in loan bid to rescue old boy Downing from Kop hell

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UPDATED:

11:57 GMT, 20 November 2012

Middlesbrough are ready to welcome back Liverpool flop Stewart Downing and rescue the England winger from his Anfield nightmare – but have just 72 hours to seal a shock loan deal.

It has been made clear to Downing that he does not figure in Brendan Rodgers' plans with the Liverpool manager keen to sell him.

The news has alerted Boro boss Tony Mowbray who is understood to be keen on bringing the 28-year-old back to the Riverside Stadium to boost the high-flying Championship side's promotion bid.

Exit ahead: Liverpool are keen to raise funds in January and sell Stewart Downing

Exit ahead: Liverpool are keen to raise funds in January and sell Stewart Downing

Football League blog

But Boro, who sold Downing to Aston Villa for 12million in 2009, are running out of time to agree a deal with the Football League's loan transfer window closing on Thursday.

A short-term move for Downing could suit Liverpool. It would put the 10m-rated player in the shop window until the New Year, when boss Rodgers is keen to raise money for his own rebuilding plans by permanently offloading Downing.

Everton and Sunderland are also interested but would have to wait until January 1, making Middlesbrough the frontrunners to re-sign the midfielder.

Back to Boro: Downing has been linked with a loan return to the Riverside

Back to Boro: Downing has been linked with a loan return to the Riverside

James Beattie in Accrington Stanley player coach

Accrington Stanley Who are they Former England striker Beattie is in as player coach

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UPDATED:

16:55 GMT, 9 November 2012

Former England striker James Beattie has joined League Two side Accrington as a player-coach, as revealed in Sportsmail.

The 34-year-old, who was released by Sheffield United in the summer, played with new Stanley manager Leam Richardson at Blackburn Rovers.

'Leam has taken over as manager and asked me to come along and play some games and do a little bit in a coaching role,' he told the club website.

Scroll down for video

Beattie signs for Accrington

Beattie signs for Accrington on Friday and holds his No21 shirt

Scoring for Everton... Beattie hits the target against Wigan

Scoring for Everton… Beattie hits the target against Wigan

Jumping for Sheffield United... Beattie avoids the challenge of Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz.

Jumping for Sheffield United… Beattie avoids the challenge of Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz.

On the ball for England... Beattie joins Sven Goran Eriksson's squad in 2003

On the ball for England… Beattie joins Sven Goran Eriksson's squad in 2003

Beattie, who won five England caps, has signed a contract until January.

He continued: 'I'm delighted to be here and can't wait to get started.

'The coaching role has put another angle on things for me, but I've signed a playing contract so I want to get involved in that as soon as possible.

'If there's anything I can lend to Leam and the coaching staff here then that'll be great.'

Sportsmail's David Lloyd is a director, shareholder and fan of the club. They were famous for the milk advert, when the child says: 'Accrington Stanley Who are they.' James Beattie looks like he knows the answer.

Scotland manager latest: Gordon Strachan says job would be an honour

Scotland job would be an honour: Strachan throws his hat into ring to replace Levein

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UPDATED:

07:26 GMT, 7 November 2012

Gordon Strachan has said it would be 'an honour' to be asked to become Scotland manager.

The former Celtic boss, 55, is strong
favourite to take over from Craig Levein who was sacked by the Scottish
Football Association on Monday following a poor start to the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in which Scotland have taken only two points from four games.

Honour: Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan is interested in becoming the new Scotland boss

Honour: Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan is interested in becoming the new Scotland boss

HAVE YOUR SAY…

Who should replace Craig Levein as Scotland manager
Levein's reign was brought to an end on Monday – with the SFA citing his reluctance to carry on beyond the end of this World Cup campaign.

Craig Levein

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

Former Celtic boss Strachan was asked about the Scotland job while working as a pundit on ITV's Champions League programme.

He said: 'It's quite simple really, it would be an honour to be asked to be the manager of your own national side, it's terrific.

'I could sit here and say “yes, it would be great” or “no, it's not for me” but it would also be arrogant of me to answer that if nobody has asked you and presume that someone will ask.

Axed: Craig Levein paid the price following a poor start to Scotland's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

Axed: Craig Levein paid the price following a poor start to Scotland's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

'Until you've been asked a question about a job, any job, then you really don't know how you'd go about it that's for sure. I wouldn't have the arrogance to think that someone is going to knock on my door.'

Strachan spent four largely successful years at Parkhead from 2005 but has been out of management since leaving Middlesbrough in October, 2010.

The former Scotland international, who played for Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds among others, will be at Parkhead tonight to watch Celtic's Champions League Group G match against Barcelona.