Boro chief Mowbray adopts cautious approach

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray
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Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray is cautious of getting too carried away by their start to the season.

The Boro are riding high in the Championship and head to Charlton looking to improve on third position.

Added to that, they are one of three non-Premier League teams left standing in the Capital One Cup.

But, speaking after the League Cup triumph at Sunderland, Mowbray said: “We’re delighted to be through – Cup competitions are all about getting through to next round – but I’m a realist.

“We could go to Charlton and lose 3-0 and everyone will say the wheels have come off. I know there will be setbacks and when they come, the team have to remain strong, be mentally tough and keep going and believing in themselves.

“The Championship is a difficult league, as you’ll see on Saturday when we’ll have a very tight game at Charlton.

“We’re winning those tight games at the moment. But lose a couple of games and you’re mid-table. Every point is hard-fought.”

Midfielder Jack Colback is confident Sunderland can channel the frustration of their Cup exit and use it to kick-start their season, beginning with Saturday`s game against Aston Villa.

The Black Cats missed out on a place in the quarter-finals 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.

Scott McDonald’s 39th-minute close-range strike was enough for Boro to progress as Sunderland lacked the cutting edge that has blighted them all season. They have drawn six of their eight Premier League games so far this season.

The loss also ends the Black Cats’ dominance in the fixture as, until the game, they were undefeated against Boro in six games stretching back to January, 2006.

“It was a massive opportunity for us and we’ve let ourselves and the fans down with the performance,” said Colback.

“We have to deal with the pressure as players. The fans had a right to get on our backs because it wasn’t good enough. We’ve got to handle that, come out and make sure we get the three points.”

Colback believes Sunderland came undone after they were unable to put an early score on the board and take control against their lower league opposition.

Scoring goals has been the Achilles heel for manager Martin O’Neill’s side this season, with Sunderland only finding the net 10 times in 11 games in all competitions.

O’Neill showed his attacking intentions against Boro by partnering form striker Steven Fletcher up front with Louis Saha, but his front line was still unable to unlock the visitors’ defence.