McDonald hopes to have to fight for place

Last updated : 03 January 2011 By Northern Echo

McDonald flew out yesterday to join up with the Australia squad for the Asian Cup, which starts on Friday, on the back of playing 78 minutes of Boro's 1-1 draw at Leeds United.

He will miss this afternoon's visit of Norwich City to the Riverside Stadium and, if the Aussies progress through to the final, he will miss the rest of January's action in the Championship.

And with manager Tony Mowbray hoping to make adjustments to personnel in the next four weeks, McDonald knows he will have work to do to get back in to the team on his return - or he hopes that is the case.

McDonald said: "I'm not going to have the opportunity to help the boys for a while, hopefully they can go on a good run while I'm away. I would rather the club did well, even if that means it's hard for me to get back in.

"Time will tell what will happen while I'm at the Asian Cup. I don't think that any of the players here have been told they can leave. At the moment every player is fighting for this football club. Until there's deals done or agreements reached, everyone has to be professional and get on with it.

"The gaffer has said we could do with one or two players who could open things up a bit more. I would like that as a striker. Those type are not easy to find, they are the exceptional ones, but if the gaffer can find at least one this month that would be great."

McDonald often cut a frustrated figure at Elland Road, where opportunities in front of goal did not arrive for him, even though there was plenty of attacking play from Middlesbrough.

To concede a late equaliser in the manner they did was cruel on Middlesbrough, who had defended solidly for 90 minutes until Luciano Becchio struck in injury-time.

Having turned in a positive display against a team that could have climbed in to an automatic promotion place, Middlesbrough will today face another in the shape of the Canaries.

McDonald, even if he will not be there, does not think Middlesbrough have anything to worry about despite sitting just two points above the drop zone.

"You can see where Leeds are in the league, you can see where we are, was there much difference" said McDonald. "This league this year, if we'd played to our potential we would be up there.

"But we're not, we started the season badly. There are certain positives around and hopefully we can pick up a few good results in the coming weeks and then beyond. Play-offs might be too far away but if we can create a bit of safety first then you never know."

Middlesbrough are likely to be without Gary O'Neil again through illness today, while Kevin Thomson's latest injury set-back is also likely to rule him out.

Middlesbrough: Steele; Hoyte, Wheater, Bates, Bennett; Robson, Bailey, Tavares, Arca; Lita, Emnes.

Source: Northern Echo

Source: Northern Echo