Curbishley wants 'best season ever'

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The Independent Football

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, has called on his players to finish the season in style - starting with victory over Middlesbrough in tonight's FA Cup sixth-round tie at The Valley.

Since the turn of the year Charlton have found some consistency, particularly at home, following a dreadful run which saw them slip down the Premiership table after once occupying second place. Yet despite being outclassed 3-0 by Arsenal in their last game, Curbishley believes there are plenty of reasons to be positive.

"When we came out of Highbury on Saturday, we were saying to the players that this could still be our best season ever," he said. "We have averaged 10th position in the past five seasons, and would like to get there again. And if we can do well in the FA Cup, then it could be considered one of our best seasons."

Curbishley is not expecting an easy ride into the last four - even though Charlton have beaten Middlesbrough twice already this season and won 2-1 at The Valley earlier this month

"Steve McClaren has got a very experienced side and have been competing regularly in Europe. They are a tough side to play against," he said.

Charlton will again be without striker Marcus Bent, who is Cup-tied and also struggling with a hamstring problem. Jason Euell is likely to retain his place, while Darren Ambrose comes back into contention after missing the defeat at Highbury.

McClaren faces a potential defensive reshuffle. Andrew Davies is Cup-tied, while Chris Riggott is doubtful after picking up a calf strain in Saturday's defeat at Blackburn. Stuart Parnaby, who has been out for almost three weeks with a hamstring strain, is in line to return.

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