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Forward Thinking.

Byline: By Bernie Slaven Evening Gazette

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was on fire at Blackburn.

That's why I hope we play with two forwards in Athens tonight.

If Hasselbaink starts, and has a striking partner against Egaleo, then he's got more chance of adding to his brilliant hat-trick.

So it's good to know that Mark Viduka has travelled, and we've also got Szilard Nemeth in the travelling squad.

It could be two from three, but I'll be disappointed if Jimmy doesn't start against Egaleo because he will be desperate to add to his goals tally after what happened at Ewood Park.

His attitude reminds me of my own when I was playing.

Jimmy was annoyed in the first half at Ewood Park because he didn't get a kick.

He has a hunger to score goals and when he's not getting the chances he gets frustrated.

If I didn't score, I used to go home and sulk and wouldn't go out on the Saturday night.

Hasselbaink is just the same. He was waiting for a bit of support and, as soon as Szilard Nemeth came on at the start of the second half, Hasselbaink scored his first goal and Blackburn were dead and buried.

If he gets the chance, another Hasselbaink goal in Egaleo tonight would be brilliant - but a goal from anybody will give us a chance of winning what could be a tight affair.

The main thing is not to lose, and I would settle for a point now - and so, probably, would Steve McClaren and his players.

Playing in Europe is no different from the Premier League. You want to get something away from home, and win your home games.

People are saying that we should win tonight because the Greek side are not up to much, but that's rubbish.

Egaleo have proved they are a good team by getting this far and I bet they're a lot stronger than Banik Ostrava.

But we did brilliantly in Ostrava and we've got the players who can do the same job for us tonight.

McClaren was not frightened to play the kids in Ostrava, and there's a chance that Tony McMahon may make his European debut tonight.

I hope he does. If he can play like he did in front of 60,000 at Old Trafford, he's not going to be fazed by 14,000 in Egaleo.

I also expect Downing to play. The lad is another one who is red hot and he has deserved all the headlines that he has received.

They say that he should be in the England side, and when you look at the other players they have got to choose from on the left wing, then you can understand why.

Downing ripped Blackburn to shreds and, while Blackburn were awful, I think I could have put on my boots and put a couple of his crosses away.

I've said before that Stewart is still a long way from the finished article, and it's true.

But at the same time I hope that he isn't held back any longer.

Downing deserves to be in the Boro team on merit and, if Sven does come calling, then Boro should be happy to see him in the full international squad.

After all, there are younger players than Downing in the England set-up.

Jermaine Jenas played for England the other day and nobody can tell me that Jenas is a better player than Downing.

Jenas has done well for Newcastle, but he didn't do too well for England, and Downing would surely be creative on the left wing if he was given his chance.

I'm sure Hasselbaink must be delighted to have Downing around. He set up a couple of the goals, though Hasselbaink has a special talent and he puts the goals away superbly where others would struggle.

People told me afterwards that it was Boro's first hat-trick away from home in the top flight since I scored three in the first half at Coventry City 16 years ago.

I've been asked which was the better hat-trick and the answer, naturally is mine - because mine was achieved against 11 men!

But I wouldn't dream of taking anything away from Hasselbaink.

His third goal in particular was a great one and I'd travel a long way to see another one like it.

Even so, you have to put things into perspective, and Blackburn were awful.

On that form they are going down. Graeme Souness must be thinking that he has moved from hell to heaven by getting away from Blackburn.

But we did what we had to do because we need to take all three points from teams like Blackburn if we want to finish top six.

In fact it's exactly because we are beating teams like these that we are in the top six now.

We've got another one coming on Sunday when we take on Portsmouth.

I'm looking for a good result tonight, and then three more points against Pompey at the Riverside.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport Boro
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
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Forward thinking.

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