Mowbray will boost Boro’s Scottish clan

Tony Mowbray and Barry Robson, right
Tony Mowbray and Barry Robson, right
Pompey's Brandon Haunstrup

Pompey will fight until play-offs are mathematically impossible

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Steve Cotterill believes the appointment of Tony Mowbray will help Middlesbrough eventually get the very best from their Scottish contingent.

Former Boro boss Gordon Strachan signed a clutch of his fellow countrymen both last summer and in the previous transfer window as he placed his faith in some of the Scottish Premier League’s top talents to fire his side to promotion back to the Premier League.

But despite being heavily tipped to go up before the start of the season, the policy failed to pay off for Strachan who was sacked in October and replaced by Mowbray – another former Celtic manager.

While some of Boro’s SPL recruits have impressed, others have not adjusted to the new environment of the Championship.

But former Celtic trio Barry Robson, Scott McDonald and Stephen McManus are all expected to feature at Fratton Park tomorrow, although ex-Rangers pair Kevin Thomson (injured) and Kris Boyd (loaned out) are not in the frame.

While admitting Mowbray had a difficult task in joining the Riverside outfit mid-season, Pompey boss Cotterill believes his counterpart at least had a head start because of his own connections north of the border, despite an ill-fated seven-month spell in charge of Celtic.

Cotterill said: ‘Tony Mowbray has ended up coming in after Gordon Strachan has had a short spell there (at Middlesbrough).

‘The benefit is that Tony will have worked with a lot of those players before because a few had followed Gordon down from Celtic.

‘I suppose that helped him when he first walked through the door.

‘He wouldn’t have had to find out too much about those players because he already knew a lot of them.’

While tomorrow’s opponents were tipped for promotion at the start of the campaign, Boro still have relegation worries hanging over them and are currently just six points above the drop zone.

Cotterill concedes Boro will have been looking for a better campaign back in August after some big-money transfers in the summer, with more than £6m spent on transfer fees alone.

He said: ‘I’m sure they would have had aspirations to be higher up because there would have been a good amount of money spent over the summer.

‘It’s not for me to say that they would be disappointed because we have enough to worry about with our own business.’