Football: Ravanelli set for derby

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli, Middlesbrough's in-form Italian striker, steps into a North-east derby at Roker Park this evening ready to put Sunderland in their place.

Ravanelli has set the Premiership alight with 10 goals in the opening weeks of the season following his pounds 7m move from Juventus in the summer. He has continued his spectacular scoring form at international level and the Sunderland manager, Peter Reid, knows his team could be in for a tough 90 minutes.

It looks likely that the stylish central defender Richard Ord will return after suspension and replace Lee Howey in the Sunderland defence. Polish full-back Darius Kubicki is recalled as Martin Scott is suspended.

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, said: "Ravanelli's confidence is sky high at the moment. He loves scoring goals. He has made a brilliant start to the season and has just come back to England after scoring three goals for Italy in World Cup qualifiers."

Reid said: "Middlesbrough's strength is going forward and they have players like Nick Barmby, Juninho and Ravanelli to call on. But we have been tremendous at the back and know what to expect from Middlesbrough. It will be interesting to see the contrast in styles between the two teams.

"Ord is available and that is a boost for us as he has been in superb form but Howey did a great job against Arsenal."

Middlesbrough will be at full strength as Steve Vickers has reported fit and could return alongside the captain, Nigel Pearson, at the heart of the defence. Vickers has made a quick recovery from a dislocated toe while Pearson proved his fitness on a two-match tour of Thailand after a seven-match absence with a knee injury.

Robson said: "It should be a cracking game. There is always a buzz about derbies. The team that keeps a level head and passes the ball well in the hurly-burly of a derby should win. My players are looking forward to the game. We have strong players who won't be out-fought and have goalscorers with the ability to break through."