Steve McClaren has insisted that Middlesbrough's cup exploits this season could have ramifications far into the future. The Teesside club host Charlton Athletic in an FA Cup sixth-round replay tonight aiming to equal their feat of reaching the last four of the Uefa Cup.
Their 22nd cup tie of the campaign will help to further swell the coffers, giving McClaren added scope to manoeuvre in contract negotiations with George Boateng and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who both become free agents in the summer.
"It helps, of course it will," McClaren said. "We've left ourselves in a precarious position with George and we need to get it sorted."
Stewart Downing and Gareth Southgate, both rested for the Premiership defeat by Newcastle United at the weekend, return for the hosts.
Franck Queudrue, who was substituted on Sunday with a head wound, is a doubt. "He's got so many stitches, he looks like Frankenstein. It may just come too soon for him," McClaren said.
West Ham await in the last four, and McClaren added: "Our season can hinge on a single minute, but there's a big prize on offer. The FA Cup provides us with two games to get back into Europe, and that's the target."
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney last night admitted the club is preparing for life without manager Alan Curbishley. Curbishley is among the names on the FA's shortlist to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England manager and Varney has conceded that the club has already begun to look at potential replacements.
Varney said: "If you have any ambitions in coaching, then you want the best job in the country. But we have to look out for the future of Charlton. With the length of time the whole process is taking, we've taken steps to make sure we know which direction we want to go in if Alan is the choice."