LUKAS Jutkiewicz could be ready to kickstart his Middlesbrough career at Blackburn Rovers tonight – and Tony Mowbray is expecting big things.
The 23-year-old striker has made just two substitute appearances so far this season after a long spell on the sidelines following knee surgery.
But Jutkiewicz could now win a start for the televised clash at Ewood Park (kick off 7.45pm).
“I’m sure he’s going to be a big player for us this year,” said Mowbray.
“He’s seen the competition come in, he’s seen Ledesma come in, he’s seen Miller come in, he’s seen the emergence of Luke Williams and he’s desperate to make an impact.
“We have to pick the right time to play him because he’s one of those players, as we saw when he first came, who gives everything.
“He puts in every ounce of energy and effort, sometimes to his own detriment, running around and chasing about and throwing himself into everything.
“We’ll hopefully utilise him at the right times to the point where 90 minutes is no problem.”
Ishmael Miller could make way for the former Coventry City frontman.
And Mowbray believes Jutkiewicz’s physical prowess is an invaluable asset to have at his disposal.
The Boro chief said: “When we signed him, I didn’t feel he was fully developed physically as a man, I was looking forward to seeing him at his peak.
“I said that would be two years after his signing and, having played against players like him, I know how tough they can be.
“When he fills out, he’s going to be a real handful.
“He’s a handful already but he’s had an injury period where he’s had time to spend in the gym, working on his upper body, working on all parts of his body.
“I think there’s a natural growth to come out of Jutkiewicz, size-wise.
“When he’s 25, without overstating it, he’s going to be a huge physical force for us in the game.”