TONY Mowbray will not allow an injury to Marvin Emnes to offer any excuses ahead of Middlesbrough’s crucial relegation face-off with Crystal Palace despite a crippling absentee list.
Emnes is a major doubt for the trip to Selhurst Park because of a groin injury and Teessider Jonathan Franks has a good chance of making his first start of the season.
Emnes has been unable to train at Rockliffe Park after suffering the injury against Scunthorpe on Tuesday night and the loss of the 22-year-old will mean Mowbray is without nine midfielders in south London this afternoon.
It is an unwanted handicap for a Boro side which has started to show signs of a revival in the last few weeks, although the manager is not interested in allowing it to become an issue.
He said: “I don’t worry too much about injuries.
“They’re part and parcel of the game. You work with the players you have got available and we will go to Crystal Palace hopeful of getting a result.
“We’re on a good run of form and the players are playing with plenty of confidence. We know that we have to play better over the 90 minutes than we did against Scunthorpe, and that’s what we have been working towards.”
Franks is likely to slot into the side at Selhurst Park and Mowbray will be able to welcome a new addition into his plans next week when Moroccan Merouane Zemmama will link up with the squad following the granting of a work permit.
Despite the injuries, there is a fresh feel to the Boro squad after the January transfer window and one of the beneficiaries of the changes is centre-back Seb Hines.
The 22-year-old has played in all three games since David Wheater was sold to Bolton Wanderers and he is loving his time in the spotlight.
And, having waited for a chance, he intends to ensure new signing Maxi Haas has to wait for a first team opportunity.
He said: “I’ve been behind Wheats and some other centre-backs for a long time. Now that I’m in the team, it’s up to me to stay there.
“So it’s the biggest time of my career so far. I have to show the manager that I deserve to stay in the team.
“I know that players are looking up at the team like I used to do behind other players. I think the competition will make me work a bit harder.”
Hines is a good friend and former youth team-mate of Boro skipper Matthew Bates and he feels this is also working to his advantage as he looks to establish himself as a key member of Mowbray’s side. He added: “It’s great to be playing alongside Matthew. We go back a long way, and sometimes it seems we’ve spent more time in the gym together than on the pitch.
“But we are getting on well. Tuesday’s clean sheet was what we need more of. Hopefully we can get another one tomorrow.
“Crystal Palace will be difficult and then we have more tough fixtures coming up like Swansea and QPR.
“But the lads are very confident. I feel we have enough quality to push them and get a result.”
An encouraging statistic for Boro as they head to the capital is that they are unbeaten in their last six matches and have fared well against teams who are also struggling in the Championship.
The Teessiders have won five and drawn two of their seven games this season against teams currently in the bottom five.