You are viewing the content for Thursday 23 February 2006

McClaren banking on Yakubu

By Damian Spellman
MIDDLESBROUGH boss Steve McClaren is tipping striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu for greatness.

The 23-year-old Nigerian has justified his £7.5m summer fee with 18 goals, including the two which dumped Preston out of the FA Cup at the weekend.

Yakubu will hope for another chance to prove his worth as ’Boro resume their UEFA Cup campaign at home to Stuttgart tonight, leading 2-1 from the first leg.

"I believe eventually, he will play at the top, top level," said the ’Boro Boss. He’s scored 18 goals and it doesn’t surprise us because he had scored that many goals before. He’s still got a long way to go, but consistently, he’s been one of the top scorers in the Premier League over the last three seasons - and he can get better."

McClaren knows how difficult Boro’s task will be if they are to progress to a last-16 clash with either AS Roma or FC Bruges. Defender Emanuel Pogatetz is suspended and midfielder Fabio Rochemback is out for eight to 10 weeks. Although Viduka, Ugo Ehiogu and Massimo Maccarone are fit again, he will allow his players to take nothing for granted.

"The tie is not over," he said. "This will be one of those European nights that could be frustrating, and I ask everybody to be patient and not to get frustrated. The tempo is not as high and as fast and furious as the Premiership, it’s more cat and mouse, and the players, the fans, everybody needs to be patient, not get frustrated and make sure we get the right result."