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Championship Spotlight:

Battling Bailey

As part of Sky Sports' Championship spotlight, Graeme Bailey catches up with Middlesbrough's Nicky Bailey.

Championship Spotlight - Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @skygraemebailey Posted 26th April 2012 view comments

Graeme Bailey caught up with Middlesbrough's midfield lynchpin Nicky Bailey ahead of this weekend's crucial final game of the season.

Boro have endured an up-and-down campaign, at one point sitting on top-of-the-table before dropping down to the edge of the play-off picture.

Last week seemed to sum up their indifferent term. They were held to a goalless draw by already relegated Doncaster Rovers, before pulling out a brilliant 2-1 win over promotion candidates Southampton.

Bailey grabbed the opening goal in the win over the Saints, his first ever strike at The Riverside.

The one-time goalscoring midfielder has been converted into a more defensive battler, but he was delighted to get off the mark last weekend.

"It was a bit of a lucky goal, I have hardly had a shot this season but it is good to score," he told Sky Sports.

Boro now face a crunch game at the weekend against Watford, but they go into the match at Vicarage Road knowing that they need other results to go their way.

For Boro to break into the play-off party they need Cardiff City to lose at Crystal Palace and then claim all three points from Watford.

Bailey admits that Boro go into the match with a buzz about the squad following on from their win over Southampton.

"We go there in great spirits," insisted the former Charlton and Southend ace.

"It is going to be hard game but Cardiff have one equally as hard.

"We go into this game with no pressure on us and we need to try and put some pressure on them.

"There is a real buzz about the place at the moment after the win against Southampton.

"We are still up for this - everyone is going to want to play as it is the last game and everything is riding on it. But we are confident we can go and do the job we need to.

"After the Doncaster result most people thought it was all over but we got the Southampton win and now it is back on. We are going into the last game in a position we probably didn't think we would be in, so it is a bonus if anything."

Changed man

Bailey himself is in his second season with Middlesbrough, but he is a different player to the one which arrived from Charlton in a £1.4million deal in June 2010.

Gordon Strachan signed him as one of the best goalscoring midfielders in the lower leagues but he is now regarded as one of the finest holding midfielders in the Championship after being converted by Tony Mowbray.

"There is not as much running involved as I was used to but you have a set role to break up the play and just try to keep them quiet, and help us play," he said.

Bailey is one of the players in contention for Middlesbrough's Player of the Year, to be decided at the club's annual dinner this weekend.

The 27-year-old, though, bemoans the fact he missed around six weeks of the season with a knee injury, which hampered his form.

"Before I got injured it was much better than what it has been lately but that is just due to the time of the season. You just have to battle and get on with it," he continued.

Indeed Bailey's form has been so impressive that he has begun to attract interest from the Premier League in his new role.

With just over 12-months left on his current deal, Bailey insists that he does not get involved in transfer speculation.

"Obviously there have been things said but I am concentrating on Boro," he said.

"Those things are not up to me - we are going to speak to the manager about a new contract but I can't really say anything about that - it isn't really up to me.

"I just have to get on with my game, if people are impressed great - but Middlesbrough are my focus at the moment."

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