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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Boro form puts Mido back into Egyptian frame

Mido's blistering start to life on Teesside could leave delighted manager Gareth Southgate with a major headache.

The 24-year-old has been called up by Egypt for Sunday's African Nations Cup qualifier against Burundi after patching up his differences with his country's Football Association.

Victory for coach Hassan Shehata's side this weekend will secure the holders' place in next January's finals in Ghana - and that could leave Boro without their £6.8million man for six weeks.

With fellow new signing Mohamed Shawky also in the squad, Southgate may find his squad reduced by two at a crucial stage in the season.

But it is Mido who would be the greater miss after his impressive first few weeks at the club, and it would be no surprise if Boro dipped into the winter transfer market in the search for cover.

The former Tottenham frontman claimed his first goal on his debut in the 2-1 win at Fulham on August 18, and followed that up eight days later with his side's first equaliser in the 2-2 derby draw with Newcastle.

Southgate has been thrilled with the impact the African has already made both on and off the pitch.

He said: 'We are delighted with him. It is not just the way he has played on the field which has been important - we needed somebody who gets hold of the ball, holds it up, gives us a physical presence up front.

'But you need leaders in your team and we are now starting to get three or four leaders into that team, and we have more potential leaders as well.

'If you want to be a successful side, you need those types of characters in the club.

'He is demanding of his team-mates and I am sure he will be demanding of me, but that's good because we all want to push each other to improve.'

Mido arrived at Boro with something to prove after struggling to impose himself at Tottenham, where Dimitar Berbatov's stunning first season in English football severely limited his chances.

Darren Bent's £16.5million recruitment pushed him further down the pecking order and opened the door for Southgate to make his move.

Boro swooped following Mark Viduka's departure to Newcastle and as speculation mounted over Ayegbeni Yakubu's future on Teesside.

Yakubu - who is also likely to be involved in the finals with Nigeria - subsequently left in a £11.25million switch to Everton.

Southgate has revealed he was sold on the Egyptian within minutes of meeting him.

Southgate said: 'The face-to-face meeting is the most important thing, I think, and the characteristics he showed me in that meeting are what he has brought into the club.

'He has given everybody a huge lift. It is important you have somebody who leads from the front - and there are not a great number of leaders from the front, that's the way the game is changing a bit.

'You need centre forwards to get hold of the ball - Mark (Viduka) was a similar type in that he wanted to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and could be vocal in the dressing room as well.

'Those things are important. Very often, you have centre-halves who are leaders - it comes naturally with the position - but you need it throughout the spine of your team.'