McClaren prepares to take 'nuisance cup' seriously

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The Independent Football

Middlesbrough hope to follow up their first Premiership win of the season against Everton with Carling Cup success against Brighton at The Riverside Stadium tonight.

Steve McClaren is looking at the competition as an opportunity rather than as the "nuisance" it is perceived to be by some of his counterparts.

The Middlesbrough manager is also wary of underestimating the Seagulls, despite their Second Division status and plans to play a strong team. "We want to do well in the tournament," he said. "I will play a strong team with every chance of beating Brighton.

"We must show the same attitude as we showed against Everton and make sure we progress. I do not subscribe to the view that the Carling Cup is a nuisance competition.

"The circumstances were unfortunate last season when we played a weakened team and were knocked out at Ipswich. It was a relief to beat Everton last Sunday after losing our first five games. We now need to hit a run. Nothing breeds confidence more than good results.

"When you play a lower-division team there is always the chance of an upset so we must guard against that. We must approach the game in a professional manner.

"Steve Coppell will have his side well organised and disciplined. I do not really know Steve but he has had fantastic experience at every level of the game."

Juninho was a high-profile casualty against Everton and the Brazilian could again be on the substitutes bench. "Like a lot of players, Juninho was disappointed at being left out of the side but he has reacted well," McClaren said.

"I have told all the players that they need to work hard for their opportunity. I still feel there is a lot more to come from this team."

Middlesbrough will be without the former Lazio midfielder Gaizka Mendieta. The Spanish international has not recovered from a calf strain picked up in training.

The Frenchman Franck Queudrue hopes for an extended run in the team after his first appearance of the season against Everton.

Queudrue won the man of the match award after being suspended for the opening five games of the campaign. "Keeping a clean sheet was important," Queudrue said. "We have to be known as 'clean sheet Middlesbrough' again because that is what we have based our success on.

"The defence has always been very good here and the foundation of the side. Everyone knows we have been giving away too many goals this season, so hopefully we are now back on the right track.

"We have to defend well, otherwise we will be in trouble. You cannot give away too many goals in the Premiership and hope to do well."

Queudrue is hoping to improve on his disciplinary record after being sent off three times last season. "I am not a dirty player," he said. "I have never hurt anyone on a football pitch. Perhaps I try a little too hard but that's the way I play."