Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Veteran Brings Up Boro's Average Age

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Veteran Brings Up Boro's Average Age

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

MARCUS Bent reckons that Gordon Strachan is right to be looking for experience to aid Middlesbrough's promotion bid.

Thirty-one-year-old Bent - a veteran of Birmingham's promotion from the Championship last season - was Strachan's first loan signing as he looked to add more second tier know-how to Boro's able but raw squad.

Bent is set to make his first start in this afternoon's game at Crystal Palace with eighth-placed Boro looking to make up lost ground on their promotion rivals after their stumble against Plymouth in Strachan's first game.

He might not like to be reminded of it - joking that he is feeling "21 again" after training with the Boro young guns - but if he does start at Selhurst Park then the striker will bring the team's average age up considerably.

That is something that Strachan is keen to do, and a move that Bent feels will only help his side's battle for a quick return to the top flight.

"The boys here have got quality, Middlesbrough are a club geared for the Premier League and we have to get back there," he said.

"If you look at Birmingham, the experience in that squad is amazing. You have players who have played in both divisions.

"There''s a few youngsters here, they have been given their chance and they are learning quickly. It''s a very hard league and its gruelling, so experience is important.

"When I got promoted with Blackburn and Birmingham, we had an abundance of experience in those years. There was a lot of talented players when I was at Ipswich but they had to be sold.

"We also had experience with Sheff United but we fell away towards the end of the season."

As well as helping a young side to make their mark in the division, Bent's other motivation for arriving at the Riverside is the chance to play under Strachan.

Boro's new boss is an intriguing character - a proven success as a manager who is also well-known for his acerbic one-liners. …

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