MATTHEW Kilgallon has been impressed by Middlesbrough's ever-increasing quality, but the defender wants to see his team become Championship bullies.
Last night Boro were working to complete the loan signing of Hamburg midfielder Mickael Tavares ahead of today’s trip to Barnsley.
Kilgallon – himself on a season-long loan from Sunderland – has warned they will need to mix it up if they are to return to the Premier League at the second attempt.
The stopper, who has played in the division for Sheffield United and Leeds United, said: “I have been impressed with the quality since I came here.
“There are a lot of good footballers here who can pass the ball.
“We will win games because of it, but in this league you also have to be able to bully teams as well.
“You need a bit of both because you get all kinds of games.
“I think we have the players who can do that.”
At 6ft 1in, French-born Senegalese international Tavares is the sort of physical specimen Kilgallon probably had in mind.
The 27-year-old was targeted after injuries to Gary O’Neil (knee), Kevin Thomson (fractured fibula), Willo Flood (dislocated kneecap) and Rhys Williams (pelvis). Boro hope to sign him to January, with a view to a season-long arrangement.
He has slipped down the pecking order at the Bundesliga club, who loaned him to Nuremberg in the second half of last season and was told to train with Hamburg’s reserves on his return.
The son of Senegal international Tony Tavares, he was picked in Cape Verde’s squad for a 2008 game against Luxembourg but not making it onto the pitch allowed him to play for The Lions of Teranga a year later.
A sound defence will also be important if Middlesbrough are to justify their favourites’ tag in the division, and Kilgallon believes the Teessiders have one, which is why the left-footed centre-back has played full-back in his first two matches.
The 26-year-old said: “We can be strong defensively, and that is something you need in this league.
“I am not the sort of player who will go bombing forward down the left, while Wheats (David Wheater) and (Stephen) McManus are both good defenders so we can all work well together.”
A lack of opportunities at the Stadium of Light following the arrival of Titus Bramble and Nedum Onuoha, and the re-signing of John Mensah persuaded Kilgallon to move to the Riverside. The form of captain McManus and the reinvigorated Wheater have provided a further frustration for him, but Kilgallon was aware of what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to join.
He added: “I knew what the situation was when I came here. My best position is at centre-back and given the chance that is where I want to play.
“Hopefully, I will get a chance there at some time, but I will also try my best wherever I am asked to play and I know I can do a job at left-back.”
Gordon Strachan’s transfer dealing was made easier when it was confirmed Didier Digard has joined Nice on a 12-month loan with a view to a permanent move.
The lavishly-paid Mido will also soon be reunited with Martin Jol at Ajax.
Strachan said: “Their departures make it easier for the chairman because everyone has to balance the books.”
The transfer window closes at 6pm on Tuesday, although Football League clubs are allowed to make loan signings in specific periods outside of it.
Nicky Bailey is doubtful with a groin problem, which is why Middlesbrough were trying so hard to complete Tavares’ signature.