MIDDLESBROUGH resume their Premier League push tomorrow when they look to put their agonising Capital One Cup exit behind them against Wolverhampton Wanderers (kick off 3pm).
Boro take on Wolves at the Riverside pumped up after a slender 1-0 loss in the quarter-final at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night.
Tony Mowbray’s side more than held their own against Michael Laudrup’s gifted Swans.
And the way Boro performed against them has given Grant Leadbitter a hunger to ply his trade in the top-flight next season.
“We want to come back to places like Swansea next year in the Premier League – the entire dressing room wants it,” said the former Sunderland and Ipswich midfielder who is hoping to shake off a tight hamstring to play.
“I want to be challenged against Premier League players.
“I feel that we’ve got talented and gifted players in the squad that can more than hold themselves in the Premier League.
“But first of all we have to get out of the Championship and that’s going to be tough.”
Boro’s 3-2 win at Peterborough last Saturday marked only their second victory in five league games.
Thanks to their fantastic early autumn form, though, they find themselves in third place and just three points beneath Crystal Palace ahead of the hectic festive schedule.
The visit of 16th-placed Wolves, therefore, is massive for Boro to maintain their spot in the race for promotion.
“We have to bounce back tomorrow against Wolves,” Leadbitter continued.
“To bounce back has got to be the message and to prepare right,” added Leadbitter on www.mfc.co.uk. “Everyone wants to do well against Wolves.
“In the Championship each game comes around quickly.
“We have to play well and come out on the front foot.
“We can’t sit back, we’ve got to win.”
Mowbray is waiting on fitness checks on a number of the walking wounded at the Riverside.
Justin Hoyte (hamstring), Andy Halliday (Achilles), Andre Bikey (hamstring), Seb Hines (knee) and Faris Haroun (hamstring) all limped away from the Liberty Stadium.
Mowbray will bring back key defender Jonathan Woodgate, who sat out Wednesday night’s game.
The Boro boss is not short of players in the squad and will not shy away from shuffling his pack if he thinks some are struggling with knocks or a feeling heavy legged after their cup exertions.