TONY Mowbray has halted moves to bring in a centre-back for Middlesbrough – so long as Ben Gibson maintains his standard of performance.
It was looking like Gibson, 20, was going to have to retreat to the Boro bench with Mogga sounding on repeated occasions in the past weeks of his desire to tighten up the backline.
However, the Teessider’s boss has changed his tone and has instead chosen to continue with Gibson and co, reassured by the soon-to-be returning Seb Hines and Jonathan Woodgate.
On the eve of the away game at Barnsley (kick off 3pm), Mowbray responded to a question about his defensive recruitment: “I think the positives of Ben Gibson, performing at the level he’s been performing at, the positives of Seb Hines off the treatment table and playing some games for the development squad every day for the last few weeks, suggest that the intensity of that requirement isn’t so great.
“Woody’s had another week to recover from his calf problem so it has lessened the concern for me.
“It’s still there, in the back of my mind, that we need to keep that as a consideration.
“Let’s hope Ben can contnues to play at the level he’s played at so far, the concentration levels which he’s shown.”
Barnsley are currently marooned at the foot of the table but with a restless home crowd baying for victory, Mowbray knows the challenge his side will face will be not as easy at their opponent’s position suggests.
And a big factor in Boro gaining all three points rests on the young shoulders of Gibson.
“There’s some big challenges in front of him of course, none greater than Saturday with potentially two huge, physical, strong centre-forwards playing up against him,” Mowbray said.
“And they’ll probably recognise that he’s a 20-year-old boy playing at the back and they might try and physcially ask questions of him.
“We’ll see whether he stands up to that.”
Aside from Gibson’s own personal battle, Mowbray has already taught his players about The Tykes’ capabalities and will be instructing them to go out for the win.
“Barnsley’s never an easy game - they’re an honest, hard working unit.
“Yes they find themselves in the bottom three, but as we found out against Yeovil they can be tough teams.
“We’ve got to be positive, get on the front foot and take the game to them.
“Every team in the league causes you problems.
“Jason Scotland always seems to score goals and is a big, strong, powerful boy.
“We will go there and play our own game.
“I wouldn’t be thinking of a game-plan to go and frustrate Barnsley. We’ve got to threaten their goal and ask questions of them.”