Robson says Worthington Cup can restore Boro confidence

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, believes a good run in the Worthington Cup could kick-start his side's Premiership campaign.

The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, believes a good run in the Worthington Cup could kick-start his side's Premiership campaign.

Boro, who have lost three successive matches and face a tricky third-round tie at Wimbledon tonight, will be without a number of key players but Robson is confident of reversing his side's recent fortunes. He said: "The morale is not great. But the lads know they can turn it around."

Those ruled out include Mark Schwarzer, Paul Ince, Robbie Mustoe, Keith O'Neill, Ugo Ehiogu, Paul Okon and Brian Deane. However Alen Boksic, Gary Pallister and Phil Stamp all look likely to be recalled to the starting line-up.

Wimbledon will be without the defender Jon Harley, on loan from Chelsea. Par Karlsson is likely to replace him in the starting line-up. Otherwise the First Division club are expected to be unchanged from the team who drew 0-0 with Sheffield United at the weekend.

The Tottenham Hotspur winger Jose Dominguez is desperate to face his former club Birmingham at White Hart Lane. The diminutive Portuguese player believes he could help his manager, George Graham, by picking him.

Dominguez said: "I have a special relationship with the fans and if George Graham gives me the chance, I can deliver and it may help to win them over." Birmingham's manager Trevor Francis could be without four key players for the visit to north London. David Holdsworth is suspended and Simon Marsh ineligible, while Danny Sonner and Marcelo are doubtful with hamstring and back injuries respectively.

The Slovakian defender Stanislav Varga is set to return to the Sunderland side at Bristol Rovers after a 10-week absence with a serious leg injury. Varga was badly hurt against Manchester City at the start of the season - he needed four operations and 42 stitches.

The Black Cats' manager, Peter Reid, said: "Stan trained for a week and looks okay. His return to fitness is a great boost for the club.'' Second Division Rovers knocked out Everton in the last round but have not won at home in the league since April.

The Blackburn Rovers manager, Graeme Souness, plans to rest Craig Short, Henning Berg and Craig Hignett for the tie against West Ham at Upton Park. The midfielder Darren Dunning is likely to be drafted into the side after a spell on loan at Bristol City.

Souness said: "This is an opportunity to rest a few players, but we will be sending a strong squad." The Hammers, who chalked up their first home Premiership win of the season on Saturday, could be without the defender Nigel Winterburn, who has a groin injury.

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