MIDDLESBROUGH youngster Joe Bennett is trying to learn from Barcelona full-back Daniel Alves as he looks to build on a promising start to his first team career.
Bennett’s partnership with Andrew Taylor on the left flank has been a rare bright spark in a dismal season at the Riverside with his foraging runs from full-back and the Academy graduate admits he is a big admirer of Alves.
The Brazilian is renowned for his ability to turn defence into attack, and while Bennett is a long way from delivering the sort of performances Alves does for the Catalan giants, he believes there are things he can adopt to benefit his own game in the NPower Championship.
Bennett knows Boro supporters have endured a miserable campaign so far with their team hovering just above the relegation places, but he cannot disguise his satisfaction at how things have gone for him.
He said: “It’s been a disappointing season for the club, whatever happens but personally, the season has been OK.
“The gaffer has put me in there and he believes in me and I thank him for that.
“Hopefully, he will keep me in there and I will hold on to that shirt.
“I really enjoy working with the new gaffer.
“There’s more to come from me, I want to improve but obviously, the gaffer has been really good with me.”
Bennett’s form has seen him sign a new four-year contract at Boro and has also brought him England Under-21 recognition and he is hoping a promising partnership with Taylor continues at Millwall today.
He said: “It’s a bit weird having Taylor on the left of midfield because he has played so many games for the club at left-back, but he is proving to be a good left-sided midfielder.
“I think that partnership with me and Tayls works really well.
“When I bomb forward, he can cover around.
“He knows what it's all about. It is part of my game, I like to get forward and Tayls just sits there when I go forward.
“I watched Daniel Alves’ performance in the week and that is something you have to aim for, play like him, good to watch.
“I think he does more attacking than defending.
“The modern day full back is all about getting up and supporting.
“That is how I have been taught growing up. I will keep on doing that.
“Obviously, I have to keep on working on my defending, I have said that many times but I do like to get forward even though I have to get back too.
“I will keep on doing that, supporting, crossing and trying to get a goal as well.”
Bennett played the full 90 minutes for the Under-21s in their 1-0 defeat by Italy in midweek and admits he found the game completely different to playing in the Championship.
He added: “I enjoyed going away with England.
“The lads were really good for me. I was pleased to get 90 minutes. It was good experience. The tempo was not as quick as I thought it would be.
“The Italians played quite slowly and the pitch didn't help.
“It was very different to the Championship, which is played at a good pace, but I got used to it and we should have won, I think. It’s good for my confidence to get called up. I've done all right in the 18 or so games I've played for Boro and obviously the FA scouts have been watching me and been impressed.”
Former Boro defender Andrew Davies has rejoined the club on loan from Stoke City until the end of the season.
Davies, brother of Durham cricketer Mark, left Teesside for Southampton in January 2008 and has signed on loan after a successful trial over Christmas.
Manager Tony Mowbray said: “With David Wheater having left the club, and with both Matthew Bates and Stephen McManus injured, it was important we retained competition for places.
“We now have Sebastien Hines, Jonathan Grounds, Maxi Haas and Andrew.
“He has experience, not only at this level, but in the Premier League too.
“He is made of the right stuff for the position he plays and he wants to be here.”