Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis has this message for ex-Sunderland striker ahead of January window

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Middlesbrough face Blackburn Rovers and former manager Tony Mowbray at the Riverside tomorrow as they bid to close the gap to the automatic promotion spots.

Boro are fourth in the Championship, four points off second place Leeds United and five away from leaders Norwich City.

Tenth-place Rovers stand in their way at the Riverside on Saturday (KO 3pm).

Stewart Downing believes Mowbray deserves a warm welcome for all his efforts for Boro over the years, though he admits he won’t mind if he leaves feeling sad this time round with Boro in need of the points.

Mowbray lost his job at the Riverside five years ago with Boro stuck in mid-table in the Championship.

Downing said: “He is a legend at this club for what he achieved during difficult times. He played and stayed, he will get a very good reception.

“And he should do because of what he also achieved here as a manager. He was well thought of. He gave his all for this club when he played and managed and he should get a good reception. Hopefully he leaves a bit sad at the end of the game on Saturday though.”

It comes as Boro boss Tony Pulis has urged striker Ashley Fletcher to show more self belief.

The 23-year-old striker has only made eight appearances this term, with just four coming in the Championship.

He has three goals but they have all been in the EFL Cup. A January exit could be on the cards for the former Manchester United and West Ham United forward.

“I think the big thing with Fletch is his personality. He’s got to come out of himself,” said Pulis.

“Technically, he’s a very, very gifted player, but it’s not technique alone that gets you there.

“His personality, he’s got to be ... you can go through a training session and not notice Fletch being there and he’s got to grow.

“He’s going to be a late, late developer. As a kid he’s an absolutely fabulous lad and technically he’s excellent, we just want him to grab it.

“He’s been at Man United, he’s left, he’s gone to West Ham, and he’s left and he’s come to us and he’s got to start grasping it.”

Fletcher had a loan spell at Sunderland in the second half of last season but struggled as the Black Cats suffered a second successive relegation.

Pulis said: “Fletch had a bad at Sunderland and the crowd gave him some stick so to get over that, that was a bit of character for him.

“You’d think that would give him that bit of edge. But there is a player in there.”