FOR Richie Smallwood, progression in the FA Cup means more to him than most.
The 22-year-old played his part in Middlesbrough’s third-round win over non-league Hastings Town earlier this month.
And now, with manager Tony Mowbray set to make changes for the fourth-round visit of League Two Aldershot tomorrow (kick off 3pm), Smallwood will be presented with another chance to impress.
“The FA Cup is similar to the League One in that the manager might make changes,” he said, “That gives me my chance.
“For me, I want to stay in this competition as long as possible if it means more starts.
“What I’ve got to do is make the most of them and try to impress and stay in the side.
“The league is obviously our priority because we’re desperate to get back into the Premier League.
“But this is a brilliant chance for us to get through and the club has some good history in the cups.”
Smallwood, though, is mindful of the lower league outfit, who disposed of Rotherham in the previous round.
And the Boro academy graduate points to Bradford City’s heroics in reaching the League Cup final as a note of caution.
“What Bradford have done is fantastic and an unbelievable achievement,” he said.
“They’ve beaten three Premier League teams, it just shows it is possible.
“We have to be wary of that and we saw against Hastings how they came out fighting against us.
“We have to be professional and make sure it’s our name in the draw for the next round.”
Meanwhile, Mowbray has revealed that the club have no plans to re-sign former midfielder Barry Robson, who is training at Rockliffe Park having left MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps.
“We’re just helping Barry out,” Mowbray said.
“He contacted me and asked if he could train with us to keep fit. It’s a reciprocal thing.
“He was a good professional when he was here, he trained hard and gave his all in games, so we are happy to help.”
With regard to signing Robson, Mowbray added: “First and foremost it’s not something that’s on my mind, it’s not something I’ve even thought about. He made the decision to take his career somewhere else.
“Barry’s been away for six months and he just rang me to ask if he could come to the training ground to keep fit.
“I don’t know what his long-term plans are, I don’t know what his expectations are, I don’t know anything about his current situation.
“People don’t understand the balance of a squad. I’m not in the business of adding players just for the sake of it.
“We’ve moved on since Barry left, we’ve brought new players in and my consideration is managing them.”
Live Transfer Talk follow football transfers as they happen