The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, believes his side are capable of reaching the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup despite being 3-2 down as they go into tonight's second leg of their last-16 tie against Sporting Lisbon at the Estadio Jose Alavalde. McClaren also has to cope with nine players missing through injury.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Viduka, George Boateng, Michael Reiziger, Ray Parlour, Ugo Ehiogu, Gaizka Mendieta, Malcolm Christie and James Morrison are all unfit. But McClaren has some reason to hope his side can overcome a deficit which would have been worse if goals from Joseph-Desire Job and Chris Riggott had not reduced the deficit in the closing 11 minutes of last Thursday's first leg at the Riverside.
"Things happen for a reason in life and in football, and at 3-0 down and with Sporting playing so well, we looked down and out," McClaren said. "But the players showed tremendous character, kept going, never gave up and scored two late goals which have given us a chance."
McClaren, who is looking for "one of the biggest results in the club's history", confirmed that he will start with two up front in Job and Szilard Nemeth.