Steve Agnew confident Brad Guzan will fill Victor Valdes' boots for Middlesbrough
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 20/04/17 5:26pm
Steve Agnew has backed Brad Guzan to fill Victor Valdes' boots as Middlesbrough continue to fight against relegation from the Premier League.
The 32-year-old United States international replaced the injured Valdes for Monday night's 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at the Riverside and is set to start at Bournemouth on Saturday, with the Spaniard struggling to shake off a rib problem.
Interim head coach Agnew has no worries in selecting a player who knows the English top flight well after spending eight years at Aston Villa before their relegation last season.
Agnew said: "Brad Guzan has been great this season. He was in earlier on in the season and performed very, very well and again I thought he was very, very competent the other night.
"We have to remember he's played seven, eight years in the Premier League with Aston Villa, so he's an experienced goalkeeper."
Guzan's appearance against the Gunners was just his fourth in the league this season and his return has come with Boro desperately scrapping for their lives, having slipped six points adrift of safety with just six games remaining.
The trip to the Vitality Stadium and next Wednesday's home fixture with fellow strugglers Sunderland are must-win affairs, with a difficult thereafter including fixtures with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
However, Agnew has no concerns over Guzan's ability and focus, with the American and Dimi Konstantopoulos ready for each game as if they were starting.
He said: "They sit and watch videos of the opposition and they know exactly the strengths and weaknesses of Bournemouth in an attacking sense.
"As I said earlier, it's the experience that Brad brings - and Dimi, obviously - that gives you confidence."
Agnew will make late decisions on striker Rudy Gestede, who is nursing a foot injury, and full-back Fabio, who damaged a knee on Monday evening. However, he is optimistic both will be available, while he will be boosted by the return of Calum Chambers, who was ineligible to face his parent club.
Skipper and long-serving midfielder Grant Leadbitter will miss the game after suffering a hamstring strain and Agnew admits he will be a big loss.
He said: "He is the captain and leader of the team and what Grant gives us is that leadership and the communication and the organisation, so yes of course Grant's a miss.
"I thought he was terrific the other night, but when a player is injured then that gives an opportunity for another member of the squad."