Rhodes relaxed over Boro starting role

UNERRING in front of goal and grounded in his responses off it is perhaps that best summation of Jordan Rhodes.

Middlesbrough's Jordan Rhodes

The Middlesbrough striker may be single-minded in his pursuit of predatory excellence on the pitch, but – in the round – he remains very much the proverbial team man.

While speculation rages over whether he will be handed his full debut for Boro at Leeds United on Monday, Rhodes is remaining calm after his £9m switch from Blackburn.

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Rhodes has been eased in thus far by way of brief substitute appearances against old club Blackburn and Milton Keynes Dons, with his stoppage-time strike against the latter increasing the clamour for him to start at Elland Road, where he has netted on his past three visits.

But he insists he has no expectation to naturally start.

He said: “No, not at all, the manager has an array of talent and a squad full of fantastic players,” said the former Huddersfield Town striker, who joined Rovers for £8m.

“I’ll go into training bright and lively and do the very best I can, and if I get selected (to start) then great. But if not, I’ll support the lads who are selected.”

Boro head into the game on a four-match winless Championship streak, their most lengthy of the season– and in a rut regarding their form.

But Rhodes says now is not the time to panic, even if they could start Monday’s game in third spot in the Championship table.

He added: “The mentality of the club is that we have to concentrate on ourselves. There’s no point thinking about other teams or results, it’s about us getting those wins that have been tough to come by in the last couple of weeks.”

Defender Daniel Ayala is battling his way back to full fitness after the ankle problem which saw him miss out in midweek and could return but full-back George Friend remains on the sidelines with a fractured shoulder blade.