Rudy Gestede (left) competes for the ball
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Friday, April 21, 2017
Rudy Gestede will return to Bournemouth on Saturday hoping to kick-start Middlesbrough’s Premier League revival by ending his 43-game wait for three points.
The Teessiders have managed only four league wins all season and as a result find themselves six points adrift of safety with as many games remaining.
Gestede, a £6million January arrival from Aston Villa, has made 11 league appearances for the club and is yet to finish on the winning side, and his last taste of top-flight victory came on the opening day of the 2015-16 season when he scored the only goal for Villa in a 1-0 win at Bournemouth, some 43 fixtures ago.
Boro’s interim head coach Steve Agnew said: “We’d love Rudy to score – we’d love any one of the players to score the winning goal for us on Saturday.
“Rudy has been really good from day one, he’s a top professional. He works ever so hard every day, he’s always asking for extra work on whatever part of his game he needs to improve on.
“Rudy is fully focused, like the rest of the players.”
Boro have not won in the league since they beat Swansea 3-0 on December 17, a run of 15 games which has yielded just six points.
Their worsening plight ultimately cost Aitor Karanka his job and while Agnew has been encouraged by an improvement in his team’s performance levels since he took over, the trip to Bournemouth and Sunderland’s visit to the Riverside Stadium next Wednesday evening are likely to be pivotal with Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton and Liverpool waiting in the wings.
Agnew said: “They have all been big weeks over this period, so of course it is big week and of course it’s a massive game. But you have to enjoy it and that’s the only way I know, that’s what the players and staff know.
“They are all relishing the game on Saturday. You do need wins and that’s what we have missed, and that’s what we need from now on in.
“Yes, you need to be hard to beat and continue to be difficult to beat, but equally you need a goal to take the three points we need.”
Gestede and full-back Fabio are expected to take their places in the squad after battling foot and knee injuries respectively this week, while defender Calum Chambers, who was ineligible against parent club Arsenal on Monday evening, could return.
However, Brad Guzan will deputise in goal for Victor Valdes, who will miss out once again with a rib problem, while skipper Grant Leadbitter will sit out with a hamstring strain.