Parlour feels scoring in Basle is key to Boro's Cup hopes

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The Independent Football

He experienced many a European night with Arsenal - if none like Tuesday's victory over Juventus - and as such Ray Parlour knows the dangers of taking opponents for granted.

The Teessiders continue their Uefa Cup campaign in Basle tonight knowing that a positive result would put them within touching distance of a semi-final against the winners of the Bucha-rest derby between Rapid and Steaua.

"It's a mouth-watering tie," Parlour, 33, said. "We have Basle, and after coming through Roma, who were favourites for the competition, we have every chance of progressing again. In front of us are two Romanian sides, and we have maybe missed the big boys like Seville and Schalke, so it's a chance for Middlesbrough to get to the final.

"But we have a big two-legged tie against Basle, so it's important we set our stall out in the first game and try to keep a clean sheet and try to nick a goal."

Boro's progress has been based on clean sheets home and away and managing to score important goals on their travels. They have conceded only four goals in their 10 games, two of those coming in the second leg at Roma which saw them edge through to the quarter-finals on away goals.

By contrast, they have scored in three of their five away games, most notably in Stuttgart and Rome, and those goals have proved decisive. "We have to be positive and go out there a little bit like Roma and try to get that away goal," Parlour said. "An away goal is very important in Europe."

Although knee and ankle injuries have limited him to 12 appearances this season, Parlour could get a chance in Basle because of the suspensions that rule out the first-choice central midfield pair of George Boateng and the 17-year-old Lee Cattermole. To add to Boro's problems, the captain Gareth Southgate will miss out because of the back injury that kept him out of Sunday's 4-3 Premiership win over Bolton Wanderers.

Christian Gross's Basle side, who lead the Swiss League from FC Zurich by two points, did not play at the weekend because their league match with Neuchâtel Xamax was postponed because of snow.

Middlesbrough from (provisional): Schwarzer, Jones, Parnaby, Queudrue, Taylor, Pogatetz, Riggott, Ehiogu, Davies, Doriva, Downing, Mendieta, Parlour, Rochemback, Morrison, Johnson, Kennedy, Yakubu, Hasselbaink, Viduka.

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