Viduka plans to revive potency of Hasselbaink partnership

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The Independent Football

Viduka marked just his second Boro start in eight months with two goals in the 3-0 demolition of Birmingham City at St Andrew's on Tuesday night.

The Australian international suffered back and hamstring injuries at the same ground on Boxing Day and his only appearance in the first team since then had been against Crystal Palace in April when he lasted only nine minutes. But he was sharp as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend and was a handful for the Birmingham defence, with his second strike being an explosive finish.

Viduka said: "Jimmy is a world-class striker. I enjoy playing up front with him. He takes the pressure off me as well because you can rely on him.

"It was good to be part of the starting line-up again. It had crossed my mind that I had got the injuries at Birmingham on Boxing Day. That was a cold day and an unhappy one for me. I've been working very hard over the last six months or so to get back. The low point was the Palace game when I got injured again.

"Now I would just love an injury-free run and I hope the worst is over. It was great to get a couple of goals at Birmingham and the second one has got to be one of my best - if not the best."

The Boro manager, Steve McClaren, has reaffirmed his faith in Viduka and insisted the striker is staying at the Riverside Stadium despite speculation linking him with a move away.

Viduka said: "It is great to have the backing of the staff but there is always speculation in football. It's always been like that whichever club I am at."

Viduka believes the arrival of Aiyegbeni Yakubu from Portsmouth will give Boro more strength in depth. "The manager has also bought Yakubu in and, judging by last season when we had so many injuries, he has to do that. If someone gets injured, you need replacements and you need top-class players.

"That's what sets apart the Chelseas, Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals from the rest. They have players who are world class who can come on, and that's what they are aiming for here."