Boro in a mess again

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Middlesbrough have big problems ahead of today's First Division fixture at high-flying Bradford City. Bryan Robson, the Boro manager, is without no fewer than 13 first-team squad members, including the injured Derek Whyte, Clayton Blackmore, Craig Hignett, Alan Moore and Phil Stamp, the ill Nigel Pearson and the suspended Gary Walsh and Gianluca Festa.

To make things worse for Robson, his unsettled Fabrizio Ravanelli has failed to return from Italy. The former Juventus man had been given permission to return home, but has not returned since despite being expected to report back this week. "I will answer no questions on Ravanelli," an angry Robson said yesterday.

The teenagers Andy Campbell, Anthony Ormrod, Stephen Baker and Craig Harrison are all drafted into the Boro squad along with Emerson's cousin, Fabio, while Andy Townsend also looks likely to play despite having eight stitches in a foot wound while playing for the Republic of Ireland last weekend.

The Bradford manager, Chris Kamara, is expected to keep faith with the side that lost 4-0 at home to Sunderland in their last outing.