Southgate refuses to blame injuries for form
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is refusing to blame injuries for his side's mixed start to the season.
Boro bounced back from their 1-0 home defeat to promoted West Brom last weekend by claiming a first away win of the campaign at Wigan on Saturday and, in the process, ending a run of four successive defeats.
And they did so without the injured Robert Huth, Andrew Taylor and Tuncay Sanli, as well as the suspended Emanuel Pogatetz, who would all come into the reckoning for Southgate's strongest starting XI.
However, the manager remains philosophical about the selection problems he has faced in recent weeks.
He said: "We felt in August probably one more body would have been good, but it means the young players get an opportunity, and there are still players who haven't had as much football as they would like.
"Injuries happen, that's part and parcel of football. We are no different to any other club in that respect.
"We had a good run at the start of the season with it. We have picked up a few in the last few weeks, but in a couple of weeks' time, we will have everybody back fit again.
"It's cyclical, really, and you just have to deal with it.''
Perhaps most worrying for Southgate is Huth's latest absence.
The 24-year-old Germany international missed the game at Wigan with an ankle ligament injury, the extent of which is still being assessed.
He arrived on Teesside during the summer of 2006 having undergone ankle surgery, and later suffered a stress fracture of the foot.
Another ankle injury hampered him at the end of last season after he had proved himself an able replacement for Jonathan Woodgate and Southgate will hope his current problem does not seriously add to his woes.
Medical staff are waiting for the swelling to ease before they can make an accurate diagnosis, and they hope to be able to do that by the end of this week.
But with Pogatetz still having one match of his three-game ban to serve and Taylor likely to be sidelined for three weeks with a hip flexor problem, Southgate's defensive resources will be stretched.
As a result, he recalled 20-year-old Jonathan Grounds from a loan spell at Norwich last week and he started at left-back at the JJB Stadium.
Boro face Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium in their next fixture on October 18.