Steve McClaren wants to recreate Manchester United's dressing room spirit at Middlesbrough to lay the foundations for future success.
Sir Alex Ferguson's former No 2 arrived at the Riverside Stadium armed with a plan to combine youth and experience just as he had seen his mentor do to such effect during his days at Old Trafford.
McClaren takes his side to relegation-threatened Ipswich tomorrow with nine first-team players injured, but he knows Boro's strength of character, and the youngsters who could get a chance at Portman Road, will ensure a committed display.
Robbie Mustoe will be missing from midfield after suffering an Achilles injury during the 3-1 defeat by Blackburn on Saturday.
"You look at how we've developed and how we've come on from the beginning of the season and we have developed something at this club," McClaren said. "We've developed a kind of spirit, a good dressing room, good attitude and good character and that's something you can't afford to lose at any football club. I know that from Manchester United. It's that dressing room that makes them so successful."
Mustoe's absence will come as a blow, but he is also likely to be without Alen Boksic, Ugo Ehiogu, Jonathan Greening, Noel Whelan, Dean Windass, Phil Stamp, Gianluca Festa and Mark Wilson.
Boksic has been allowed to fly out to Italy to consult a doctor who has treated him in the past over a groin injury, while Windass with a knee problem and Stamp, who damaged a calf muscle in training, and Festa, suffering from a groin strain, have joined the longer-term absentees on the sidelines. The youngsters David Murphy, Brian Close, Stuart Parnaby, Mark Hudson and Stewart Downing have been drafted in.
The experienced defender Colin Cooper will start his first senior game since the death of his son.
The Ipswich manager, George Burley, has called for the same attitude and commitment his players showed against Arsenal on Sunday. Ipswich are seeking to end a run of 10 matches without a win – their last success was 2-1 at Everton at the start of February.
The midfielder Tommy Miller, who bruised a foot during the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, is doubtful. An X-ray showed no bones were broken but his foot is still sore and he faces a test.
The Nigerian international Finidi George limped off early in the second half at Arsenal but has now shaken off the effects of the knock.
Burley remains positive, saying: "The attitude and commitment against Arsenal were very good so we have to do the same again. If we manage to win against Middlesbrough it will put the pressure back on Sunderland who have a tough match away at Charlton on Saturday."Reuse content