Southgate backs Alves to find shooting boots

April 1, 2008

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has backed record signing Afonso Alves to emulate his previous goalscoring prowess soon.

Brazilian Alves, a £12.5million signing from Heerenveen, for whom he struck 45 times in 38 matches, struck the woodwork twice after coming on as a substitute against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Boro lost Sunday's contest 1-0 but Southgate saw some value in his substantial January outlay.

'That's the sharpest we've seen him in a match, we've seen that in training,' Southgate told the club's official website. 'He needs that match sharpness now and he'll only get that by playing.

'The chance when he hit the post, he did brilliantly to make it for himself and get round the `keeper and he did pretty much everything right.

'The header that hit the bar he did well to get over it as much as he did.'

Meanwhile, Southgate is also backing former Tottenham and Charlton full-back Luke Young to add to his seven England caps.

'I thought he was excellent against Chelsea,' Southgate added. 'I don't like to tout my players for international recognition but I think he's been outstanding and he wouldn't let anyone down if he was to play in the international side.'