Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Pulis Hails the Spirit of His Squad of Players; Boro

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Pulis Hails the Spirit of His Squad of Players; Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE

THE Boro players were fighting over the right to take penalties, revealed Tony Pulis after watching his team march through to the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.

Middlesbrough won a spotkick shootout 4-3 after the third round tie against Preston ended 2-2 at Deepdale.

The visitors twice came from behind through Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier then progressed to round four after the penalty competition.

Converting for Boro were Grant Leadbitter, Rudy Gestede, Paddy McNair and Tavernier and, because the hosts twice missed the target, no further men in red were required.

Not that there was a shortage of volunteers.

Pulis said: "The only thing I will say is I wanted Grant to be first, to pick the baton up, and the rest were all fighting over it!

"In addition to the five that were selected, there was another five behind them who all wanted to take them so that's brilliant really.

"I always let the players decide," he added. "The ones that are confident take the penalties, it's no good forcing someone to take a penalty if they don't fancy it. But they all fancied it."

So do the players practice? "Speak to the groundsmen," insisted Pulis. "They are always practising penalties on the training ground. They were all very, very confident taking them."

Boro also won their first round tie against Notts County in penalties before eliminating Rochdale in the next round. Both those ties were at the Riverside and Pulis wants another home tie in the last six draw, which takes place on Saturday night on Quest TV.

"A home draw please," was his preference when asked.

The Boro boss made 11 changes from the team that started at the weekend, giving Danny Batth his debut and Sam McQueen his first Middlesbrough start.

Rudy Gestede was made his first senior appearance of the season while Dimi Konstantopoulos was making his first start since October last year.

On the game itself and the players he selected - both young and old - Pulis said: "I thought it was a really good performance. …

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