Middlesbrough chief backs Bates to lead by example

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TONY MOWBRAY has warned his Middlesbrough players to expect a "feisty" affair at Elland Road.

The 47-year-old lifelong Boro fan grew up watching Yorkshire derbies against Leeds United so knows what to expect ahead of a game that is set to be watched by a crowd of around 32,000.

Relegation-threatened Boro go into the match buoyed by Tuesday's vital win at bottom club Preston North End and Mowbray insists his players will not be daunted by United's 11-game unbeaten run.

He said: "Leeds have thrown a two-goal lead away a couple of times recently but they are scoring goals. Everything is not rosy, though, because they do concede.

"We have to put them under pressure and be mindful of it. We have to ensure we don't concede goals as well. They are usually feisty affairs. I grew up watching Leeds-Middlesbrough games at Elland Road, seven years in a row there was a sending off. They mean so much to the supporters of each club. I am sure it will be played in a good atmosphere."

Matthew Bates will again captain the side at Elland Road after being awarded the armband shortly after Mowbray succeeded Gordon Strachan as manager in October.

The 24-year-old, who despite making his league debut six years ago is yet to reach 50 league starts for Boro, has impressed in the role sufficiently to be considered as a permanent captain.

The Boro manager, captain of the club in their Ayresome Park days, said: "If you look at his career, I thought the captaincy might help. He is a local lad and I thought it would mean a lot to him to lead his home-town team.

"If he can focus his concentration on his football responsibilities, on his life, then he can become a really good captain, player. What I had heard before I came was that he was one of the lads and that he liked to do the things that young footballers liked to do when they have a few quid.

"There comes a time when you have to mature, take responsibility for yourself and for others, he is doing that."