Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Missing Viduka Has Cost Boro

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Missing Viduka Has Cost Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jack Pickering

LEE Cattermole has identified Mark Viduka's absence through injury as a major reason for Middlesbrough's indifferent form.

Gareth Southgate's side go into tonight's televised Premiership clash at Fulham having gained just six points out of a possible 24.

Significantly, Boro are yet to win away this season and need the points at Craven Cottage if they are not to suffer a miserable start to their Christmas campaign.

The Teessiders won just once during Viduka's six-match stint on the sidelines due to broken toes, but the Australian striker started his comeback as a sub at Spurs on December 5 and was a starter in the 1-1 draw with Wigan four days later.

And Cattermole was quick to em -phasise Viduka's importance to the Boro team, saying: "He is a figurehead, he is the target man up there. That is what we have been missing. Yakubu likes the ball down the channels a bit more, but Mark as a targetman is great because you know if you give him the ball it is going to stick."

Meanwhile, Cattermole is refusing to rest on his laurels after a sensational breakthrough season. The 18-year-old midfielder is expected to return to the first team for tonight's clash having served a one-match suspension.

He has fond memories of Craven Cottage having skippered his boyhood idols in the final Premiership fixture of last season to set a new record as the club's youngest skipper. Tonight's game will afford the nation's armchair fans a chance to see just how far the England Under-21 international has come in a year since making his debut aged 17 against Lit ex Lovech in the Uefa Cup on December 15.

On that occasion, Cattermole, a late substitute, did little more than get booked for an over-enthusiastic tackle. Since then he's emerged as one of the most promising all-action midfielders in the country.

Reminded of the anniversary, he said: "I did not realise that. It has been a great year for me, but I do not want to look back and start thinking about what has gone on in the last year. I want to move on and get back in the Middlesbrough side and get a run of games under my belt. …

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