Southgate backs 'hungry' King to taste success

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The Independent Football

Gareth Southgate, the Middlesbrough manager, believes Marlon King's "hunger" to succeed will have a positive effect on his new team-mates in their survival battle. King joined Boro on loan until the end of the season from Wigan and will be in the squad for tonight's Premier League game at Chelsea.

The former Watford striker has been training with Boro this week, after his truncated loan at Hull, and Southgate said: "I've been absolutely delighted with him so far. He's got a hunger to be here and I think he has a point to prove. The great thing from the squad's point of view is that it's another striking option. Marlon has Premier League experience and he is fit from his time at Hull City, so we can put him straight in if we need to.

"In many respects I'm delighted that things didn't work out at Hull for him because it means we have got him here. A new player coming into a squad always makes a difference, especially when he is a goalscorer. It lifts the other players and they are keen to show him what they can do as well. So I am hopeful that Marlon's arrival will work out very well for us."

Southgate must decide whether to pitch King straight into the action at Stamford Bridge. Record signing Afonso Alves has recovered from an Achilles injury which he sustained in Saturday's FA Cup win at Wolves and his inclusion may mean King has to wait on the bench for his chance.

Southgate said: "Alves has been training and so we don't expect him to have any problems. I have several options. I can play both of them together or I can think about the Chelsea game and Saturday's home game against Blackburn and think about pitch time."

Southgate must come up with an effective game plan if he is to halt Middlesbrough's poor run at Chelsea. They have not won at Stamford Bridge for more than 30 years and Southgate will be tempted to do what most visitors to Chelsea do, and leave out a striker in favour of playing an extra man in midfield.

The Boro manager does not have too many midfield options, though, having been left bitterly disappointed when target Ben Watson opted to join Wigan from Crystal Palace last week, despite having a medical on Teesside.

Southgate said: "We don't have too many options in terms of numbers, but we are not lacking in experience. We have missed Julio Arca over the last couple of weeks while he has had treatment for a knee injury."