Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SHARE THE LOAD; We Can't Just Rely on Goal Hero Jonno, Says Strach: 'We Can't Just Rely on Johnson' Says Boss

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

SHARE THE LOAD; We Can't Just Rely on Goal Hero Jonno, Says Strach: 'We Can't Just Rely on Johnson' Says Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE

BORO can't keep relying on Adam Johnson.

That's Gordon Strachan's message to his players going into tomorrow's crucial Championship clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Despite having spent less than two weeks in the hotseat, the new manager has recognised the hugely important contribution made by Johnson so far this season and wants the winger's team-mates to also stand up and be counted.

Assessing the impact made by Johnson, Strachan told the Gazette: "I think he's more than a key player now.

"If you look at the stats you realise how important he's been to the club. We need to keep him playing as he is, but the rest as a group have to say: 'you have a day off and we'll take over'.

"We must as a group be a more rounded team.

"If you look at our performances he's huge at the moment.

"The penalty miss must have hurt last week, but if you look at the number of games he plays and what he does in assists and goals he has been quite phenomenal this year."

Tomorrow's game could be a barometer to how the next few weeks pan out. It's Boro's last fixture before the two-week international break and a defeat or even a draw would leave the club mired in mid-table. Victory, however, could lift Strachan's side as high as fourth, depending on other results.

The new manager is likely to make changes from the side that kicked off his first game against Plymouth last weekend.

Joe Bennett, Andrew Taylor and Jonathan Grounds are all battling to replace the injured Emanuel Pogatetz at left back Strachan admits it's a position where he's got plenty of cover.

"Joe's a contender there as well as Andrew, Julio Arca's played there before. In these areas we seem to be reasonably strong - the full-back areas - centre-half, we can manipulate that, midfield we're struggling with bodies and strikers, that speaks for itself." Referring to Pogatetz, the manager added: "I thought he played well the other day, I thought he looked comfortable considering it was his first game back. It's like having a real man in your side. …

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