McClaren in confident mood
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Steve McCLaren thinks Middlesbrough can go all the way in the Uefa Cup.Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren insists his side are well enough equipped to go all the way in the Uefa Cup.
Boro entertain Litex Lovech on Thursday and a 2-0 win or better will secure them top spot in their group - which would then mean they avoid one of the eliminated UEFA Champions League teams in the next phase.
McClaren, though, says Boro are not frightened of anyone.
"Talking to the players and looking at our team and our squad and how we are playing in Europe, I do not think we are scared of anybody.
"Nobody, I'm sure, in the draw, would like to come up against us whether that's a Champions League team or not.
"The players don't mind. They fought long and hard to get into Europe and the nights so far have been disappointing because, while the results have been good, the crowds have been poor and they have not really felt like European nights a la Lazio and Ostrava and Sporting Lisbon last season.
"They want that kind of atmosphere, they want that kind of European night. That's what they fought 38 games for to get there, and they want more of them.
"If it's a big team, I don't think the players would mind. I certainly wouldn't."
McClaren will take advantage of the Litex game to blood Boro's most recent academy graduates - Jason Kennedy and Adam Johnson.
Both already have limited first team experience, but they will begin the match on Thursday - possibly alongside fellow teenagers Matthew Bates and James Morrison.
"It's a fantastic opportunity to blood the two lads. They've been excellent in the reserves all season and made many of the first team squads," added McClaren.
"It will be interesting to see how they cope in what is a very important game for the club."