Boro counting the cost of teenager’s progress

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MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray says he will not stop his players from sampling international football amid doubts over loan midfielder Josh McEachran’s involvement today.

The 19-year-old, in impressive form for the Teessiders, picked up an ankle injury playing for England Under-21s in their friendly with Northern Ireland on Tuesday, with Mowbray remaining philosophical over the club-versus-country debate.

Mowbray, whose vast majority of players have enjoyed a rare midweek break this week, said: “It is a concern and disappointing when a player who has been so influential picks up an injury, but I would never deprive players from playing for their country.

“I’m delighted when we get call-ups, but there is always a fear of players coming back unfit.

“Every manager wants a full week of preparing his team for the next game, but when players are away, you do not get them on the training ground.

“But that is part and parcel of having a decent team with players good enough to play at international level.”

Boro line up against a familiar face today in former full-back Andrew Taylor, an ever-present this season for the third-placed Bluebirds, who are seeking to claim a record ninth successive league win on home soil.

Hartlepool-born Taylor, 26, first signed for Boro as a nine-year-old schoolboy and stayed 15 years before leaving for the Principality in July, 2011. Mowbray admits that in an ideal world the left-back would still be a pivotal part of his squad.

Mowbray, whose high-flying side are seeking a third successive victory in Cardiff, said: “Andrew, for me, is more than just a footballer. He is three players in one.

“He played left-back for me with great success, while he spent a lot of time in midfield, playing either in a three-man or four-man system. He is a highly versatile player.

“There was a bit of disappointment and frustration he left Middlesbrough for Cardiff. I have said before I would have liked him to stay. But he left and that is history. There are no hard feelings.”

Impressed by the job done by former Celtic team-mate Malky Mackay, he added: “He was an honest, hard-working centre-half who did his job and taken that into management. He has authority and is doing a good job.”