We can handle tension - Southgate

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Football News

Gareth Southgate is convinced Middlesbrough have a psychological advantage over their fellow relegation candidates - because they have been staring disaster in the face for weeks.

The Teessiders remain three points adrift of safety but Southgate believes the experiences of the last two seasons, when Boro have secured their Premier League status only on the penultimate weekend of the campaign, and the fact they have been entrenched in bottom three for some time, gives them an edge over some of their rivals.

"We have been where those teams are in recent seasons, so we know how that feels in some respects," he said.

"In a strange way, we have got less tension about us because we have faced the worst possible scenario being where we are, and we have realised we can handle that.

"If you can handle that, you can look forward and see what we can go on and achieve."

Southgate has remained commendably calm throughout a difficult season and particularly during the depths of a run which has brought just two league wins in 21 attempts.

That sequence of fixtures has yielded just 14 points from a possible 63, and Boro need a much bigger percentage return from the final 15 if they are to pull off a great escape.

However, the manager insists setting a points total for safety is a waste of time.

He said: "It's pointless trying to work out how many points you are going to need.

"For me, it's a futile exercise. There's enough energy needed to win your matches and prepare your team, and everything else will take care of itself."

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