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Allardyce lauds Boro's 'remarkable achievement'

Sam Allardyce looks set to be pipped at the post for the England job by Steve McClaren - yet the Bolton boss has nothing but admiration for the way his Middlesbrough counterpart has steered his club into the UEFA Cup final.

On the downside, Boro are being forced to endure five matches in the space of 10 days.

Allardyce said: 'It is remarkable achievement for Middlesbrough to be in the UEFA Cup final, given they are not one of the big clubs.

'I would love to swap places with Steve in this one - and I hope they win it.

'Mind you, I don't think they are being helped here by having to play so many games in a week.

'The demands on Steve and his players are rather unfair.'

Allardyce believes McClaren is a strong favourite to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The Bolton boss is almost resigned to the fact he will not land his dream job.

Allardyce said: 'Steve looks odds-on favourite and slightly ahead of me in the running.

'He will be looking to clinch that position.

'But who knows? I haven't given up hope that it is going to me. It just does not look as though I am the favourite at the moment.

'I am still keeping my fingers crossed.

'I have not heard anything officially, but we should know by the end of the week.'

Bolton may have to settle for a place in the Intertoto Cup following their defeat at Tottenham.

With a home match to come against relegated Birmingham on Sunday, Allardyce is looking for maximum points as they face Boro at the Reebok Stadium tonight.

He said: 'We need to finish off with two victories at home.

'If we play like we did at Tottenham we will get something from the game against Middlesbrough.

'The Reebok Stadium has been a great place for us in the league this season, and we want to maintain our good form there.'

Jamaica international Ricardo Gardner has been ruled out of the match because of a knee problem.

However, French defender Bruno N'Gotty returns to the squad following a groin injury.

Club captain Kevin Nolan remains doubtful, after a rib injury forced the midfielder to miss the defeat at Tottenham.