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Middlesbrough miss key men

Published: Thursday 10 March 2005, 10.01CET
Middlesbrough FC have several injury problems ahead of their first-leg tie against Sporting Clube de Portugal.

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Published: Thursday 10 March 2005, 10.01CET

Middlesbrough miss key men

Middlesbrough FC have several injury problems ahead of their first-leg tie against Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Middlesbrough FC manager Steve McClaren has a number of injury concerns as the UEFA Cup debutants prepare to welcome Sporting Clube de Portugal in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie.

Injury list
Definitely out are Ugo Ehiogu, Gaizka Mendieta and Malcolm Christie and the match is expected to come too soon for George Boateng (foot) and Mark Viduka (hamstring) as they work their way back to full fitness. Dutch international Michael Reiziger is also doubtful with an ankle complaint, while Ray Parlour is struggling with a back injury.

Graham hope
Mark Schwarzer should return in goal after missing the past two matches because of a knee problem, not least as his deputy, Carlo Nash, added to McClaren's problems after suffering a groin strain in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa FC. Should neither goalkeeper be able to play, 18-year-old David Knight, who was on the substitutes' bench against Villa, will make his first senior appearance for the club. Another teenager, striker Danny Graham, signed a new two-year contract on Wednesday and could start.

'Young team'
McClaren said "With ten senior players out it's going to be quite a young team and one of the youngest benches we've ever had. It will be a great experience for them. We'll go into the second leg knowing what we have to do and we want to make sure we have an advantage to take to Lisbon."

Beto back
Sporting, who dropped from first to third in the SuperLiga after losing at Lisbon rivals CF Os Belenenses 1-0 on Sunday, missed centre-back Beto in that game but he is now fit, making up for the continued absence of Anderson Polga due to a muscular injury. Also missing is central midfield player Custódio but winger Rodrigo Tello could return having been excused from training due to tonsillitis.

Peseiro ambition
Visiting coach José Peseiro, who should his team reach the final will have the advantage of playing at their own Estádio José Alvalade, said: "We think we can win both competitions [UEFA Cup and SuperLiga]. We have six matches to go until the final, but first we have this match which will be a very difficult one."

Last updated: 10/03/05 13.52CET

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