‘A very good team’ - McLean expects Boro to pose big threat to unbeaten run
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Kenny McLean expects Middlesbrough to raise their game as they attempt to thwart Norwich City in a clash of two of the Championship’s form teams at the Riverside on Saturday.
The Canaries are feeling good thanks to a seven-game unbeaten run lifting them to third in the table and know they can finish the weekend top of the table with a win, if Reading and Watford slip up.
However, Boro are on a 10-game unbeaten run themselves and are only three points further back in seventh, with Neil Warnock’s team having the best defensive record in the division of just five conceded in 11 games.
“It’ll be difficult, it’s obviously a very good team and everybody we come up against seems to raise their game a little bit, so it’s up to us to deal with that,” said McLean.
“We’re the in-form team of the league right now, there’s no doubt about it and we need to bring the best out of ourselves again and be ready to go.
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“We’ve had a decent season, we find ourselves in a good position, but we want to be as high up the table as possible and not stop until we get to where we want to be.
“It’s a massive period coming up and we need to pick up as many points as we can, we know we’ve got the squad and a team that can go on a really good run, like we’ve done previously, and I have no doubt that we’ll do that.”
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The midfielder has returned from a lively international break, scoring a crucial penalty as Scotland beat Serbia in a shoot-out to qualify for the European Championship - and a first tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
Those celebrations were soured slightly by 1-0 defeats in Slovakia and Israel in the Nations League which wasted the chance to secure a World Cup qualification play-off place.
However, McLean featured in all three of those games and started City’s 1-0 home win over Swansea prior to the international break, so is hoping to help continue building momentum at club level.
He has the fit-again Lukas Rupp for competition for a starting role in midfield but with the game against Boro the first of 12 in six weeks, the Canaries are going to need contributions from their whole squad during as a hectic schedule continues.
Speaking to City’s official website, McLean continued: “Nobody lets anybody get ahead of themselves, we’ve got a very humble squad, we’ll work as hard as we can and that’s what has got us success in the past, so that won’t change. We know we’re a good team, but it’s okay saying it, we need to go and prove it week in week out and that’s what we’ve been doing, so long may that continue.
“We need to keep this going, we’ve been here before and we know how much every point means in this league, so we’ll fight for every point. We know we’ve got the quality to get points everywhere we go.
“Middlesbrough is going to be a tough game, but it’s down to us to go there and get the job done.”