Bennett staying focused
Middlesbrough ace Joe Bennett insists he will not be distracted after being linked with other clubs.
By Graeme Bailey - Follow me on Twitter @graemebailey
Last Updated: 23/03/11 4:00pm
Middlesbrough starlet Joe Bennett insists he will not allow himself to get distracted as his performances catch the eye of a number of clubs.
The England Under 21 international has shone for Boro at left-back this season and has been one of the real highlights of an otherwise disappointing campaign.
Skysports.com revealed last week that Sunderland boss Steve Bruce recently made a personal check on Bennett, while the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City are also monitoring his progress.
But the Boro academy graduate is staying focused, having only signed a new long-term contract in January.
"I don't worry about the scouts," he said. "Everyone is being watched.
"There are a lot of good lads in the team so that's bound to happen.
"I don't bother about that, I just concentrate on playing for Middlesbrough Football Club.
"I just want to keep playing and doing my best for Boro, and keep winning games. And maybe start to add some goals soon."
Bennett started the season on the fringes of the first-team squad under Gordon Strachan and he has hailed the arrival of Tony Mowbray, who has played him in every match since taking charge.
"I wouldn't have believed at the start of the season that I would be in this position now, a regular in the Boro team and playing for England," he continued.
"If someone had said that to me last summer I would probably have laughed.
"I don't know what it was with the old manager but I wasn't getting in the team.
"But I just kept my head down and kept working. I knew I had the ability to play in the first team if I got the chance.
"I was maybe going to get sold or go out on loan somewhere. I wasn't really sure what was going to happen but it didn't look like I was going to get in the team.
"But thankfully we got a new manager.
"He has helped me flourish. He put me in straight away and told me to go and enjoy myself, and get forward and try to make things happen and that's what I've done.
"He has got confidence in me and encourages me to play. He has given me an opportunity to show what I can do and I am taking it. I'm really enjoying my football now."