MIDDLESBROUGH’S captain versatile is looking forward to playing a bit of football tonight after “watching a tennis match” for most of his goal-scoring return.
Matthew Bates had been out injured for nine weeks before being thrown into the weekend’s dogfight in the centre of midfield.
It was the first time the 24-year-old had played outside of defence since the club’s Premier League days - and he soon noticed the difference in style after getting neck strain watching balls fly over his head.
The physical nature of the game proved Boro boss Tony Mowbray’s defensive selection right - and it came with an added bonus when Bates latched onto Andrew Taylor’s flick to score the opener in the 2-1 win against Sheffield United.
But Bates is expecting a different game tonight at Portman Road against an Ipswich Town side who like to get the ball down and play with the likes of Jimmy Bullard pulling the strings.
“The safer we get and the more it gets mathematically certain, we can relax and try and play football and the fans will see what they are going to see next season from us,” said a heartened Bates after seeing his side climb a comfortable 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
“It wasn’t a football game [on Saturday], it was a battle and a scrap. But that’s football in this division and we have to play as they play.
“I don’t think there has never been a belief in the team, but its confidence. That’s five games unbeaten now and that brings confidence. The more you win the more you want to play football and the lads are buoyant out there.
“We think Ipswich will be a lot different than Sheffield. They will try and pass the ball and it will be two evenly matched sides, and hopefully we will come out on top.”
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