Nationwide League preview: Robson seeking inspiration from the fans

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The Independent Online
The Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson is looking to the club's fans as his team aim to rebound from last weekend's defeat at Manchester City.

The Nationwide League First Division leaders visit Huddersfield today, and Robson said: "The fans have been a terrific help with their overwhelming support.

"It's vital we bounce back from our defeat at Maine Road when we go to Huddersfield. We didn't compete in the opening 20 minutes last Saturday and paid the penalty. We must be fully-committed from the start against Huddersfield as they have shown improved form recently. There will be a sell-out crowd and I hope my players will get back to winning ways."

The Huddersfield midfield player Paul Dalton will hope to add a victory over Boro to his list of Christmas presents after signing a new two-and- a-half year extension to his current contract. His manager, Peter Jackson, said: "Paul has the ability to carry this club into the millennium.

"I firmly believe that judging by the talent he's shown since I arrived here, he has wasted his career so far. He's been fantastic and deserves his new contract. But it's vital he makes the most of the next few years both for the club and himself."

Denis Smith, who was confirmed as the new West Brom- wich Albion manager on Christmas Eve, is in charge of his new side for the first time for today's visit to Reading. The former Oxford United manager is Albion's third manager in 12 months, but said: "I've signed a three-year contract and it is my intention to stay with Albion for this period.

"If Albion do as well in the second half of the season as they have in the first I will be delighted - we will be pushing for promotion. I've had only one season as a manager in the Premier League and I would like to take Albion into the top division."

Smith has agreed to work with Albion's current coaches John Trewick and Cyrille Regis. "I will have to rely upon their judgement for the first few games until I get to know the players, " he said.

The Sunderland manager, Peter Reid, is confident his side will extend their unbeaten 12-match run, including four successive wins, to keep in touch with Middlesbrough. Sunderland play Bradford today, and Reid said: "We're on a roll and my lads are extremely confident. Promotion is not over by a long way - we'll definitely go close."