Respect but no reason to fear Mowbray’s high-flyers

THEY might not have lost for 11 league games this season and sit proudly in second place in the Championship.

They might have the equal best defensive record so far and possess the league’s second top goalscorer in Marvin Emnes.

But while well aware of the threat posed by high-flying Middlesbrough, Paul Jewell insists his improving Blues should have no reason to fear tomorrow’s visit to the Riverside.

The Town boss said: “We have to respect the opposition but not be fearful of them. Last year, they spent quite a lot of money and brought a lot of players in and most people tipped them for promotion. It didn’t happen for whatever reason, but they had a good end to last season and they have started this season very well.

“There are a lot of teams with good facilities, good players, and a big fan base who think they should be in the Premier League.

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“There is no God-given right and I think Middlesbrough know that better than I do. But they have a blend of youth and experience so it will be a decent football match.”

There is clearly a healthy respect between the clubs with Boro assistant manager Mark Venus returning to his old stomping ground to see Ipswich beat Coventry City 3-0 on Monday.

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Jewell’s number two, Chris Hutchings, returned the compliment 24 hours later when a weakened Middlesbrough side were knocked out of the Carling

Cup at Crystal Palace.

And Tony Mowbray, another ex-Blue who has overseen a renaissance at the Riverside, said: “It’s a big test for us. They’ve had their ups and downs this season but they are on the back of a 3-0 win they’ll come looking to build on that.

“What we need to do is concentrate on ourselves, get our own performance levels high and get back to winning ways.”

Mowbray, who spent almost six years at Portman Road and has been linked with the Ipswich job on more than one occasion, added: “It’s a fabulous football club with a great history and a lot of special people still work at the club, it’s got a family feel to it, it’s a wonderful part of the country. I really enjoyed my time there.”

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