Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate today praised secret weapon James Morrison after the youngster adapted to a new role at Portsmouth. The twenty-year old player was asked to play in the hole behind forward Yakubu. From here Morrison did a good job and it helped Middlesbrough gain a goalless draw against Portsmouth.

“I had been wanting to try the formation and James was the perfect man to put there because he has done it before with great success for the youth team. I have to thank my back room staff and particularly Malcolm Crosby for looking at the different options,” said Southgate. “We decided to go with this formation and I said to James that he had the best job in football because he had space in which to play. He was able to turn and run with the ball and he was very effective for us. It’s a different type of challenge but the performance was what we were looking for and it’s something we will look at again.”

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Jonathan Woodgate has staked an unanswerable claim to be named in the England squad on Friday following another outstanding performance at Portsmouth last night but is playing it down once again. The Middlesbrough-born defender led by example at the back as Boro earned a goalless draw and recorded their first clean sheet of 2007.

“I don’t think about England. I just think about playing as well as I can for Middlesbrough. If the manager picks me for the England squad that’s fine. Of course I would be happy to return,” said Woodgate But I am concentrating on playing as many games as I can for Middlesbrough and it was great to be part of such a good team performance at Portsmouth last night.” Read more