Southgate: We can handle pressure

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Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate will rely upon the experience of 20 years in professional football to stay calm throughout Monday's make-or-break battle with Newcastle.

The 38-year-old knows defeat at St James' Park could effectively condemn the Teessiders to life in the Coca-Cola Championship, but he will not be getting carried away before, during or after a contest opposite number Alan Shearer has described as the biggest of his career.

"You can only be as you are," said Southgate. "I understand the questions about biggest, bigger, bigger than that. But the fact is in 20 years of football, you have been through quite a lot of big scenarios and difficult matches and difficult times, and if you can't draw on those experiences for weeks like this, then it's pointless going through them."

He added: "Yes, most of those were as a player and this is as a manager, but pressure is an all-encompassing things really and you get used to dealing with pressure, albeit this is a different scenario and different situation.

"But you have handled pressure before, so that doesn't hold any fear for us."

Hull's 2-1 home defeat by Stoke on Saturday means either team would go level on points with the Tigers if they won, with Newcastle's superior goal difference taking them out of the bottom three.

The Magpies have won seven and drawn seven of the last 17 meetings between the sides, although Boro have returned from St James' with a point on each of the last four occasions they have visited.

However, Southgate insists their recent record will count for nothing.

He said: "Yeah - we said that about Arsenal three weeks ago, didn't we? Yes, great, let's hope it's still there.

"It comes down to performing on the night. You could do everything right and not perform on the night; you could do everything wrong and perform on the night. It's about making sure we get everyone in the right frame of mind, physically feeling as well as they possibly can."

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Stoke City
Premier League
Newcastle United
Alan Shearer
Gareth Southgate
Hull City

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