Curbs looking ahead to Middlesbrough match

Amid all the ongoing international fixtures this week, Alan Curbishley has one match on his mind: Saturday's Premiership clash against Middlesbrough at Upton Park.

And the Hammers boss is preparing for a tough encounter. "I think Middlesbrough are a very steady team," he says. "They sign experienced players, people who have been around and been there and done it. They started off the season not too well and had a bit of a wobble but their senior players' experience has shown and pulled them through."

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate incurred controversy recently when he rested several senior players for their Premiership game against Manchester City, which culminated in a 2-0 defeat.

"Everyone down the bottom is very disappointed with what happened against Man City," admitted Curbs. "Not just the result but, when you do rest players and don't get the result, it's a double whammy. I've always been in a position in the Premiership with Charlton that around about this time we've usually been in a healthy league position and never taken it for granted.

"But also when we played teams that were involved in relegation battles we put our strongest side out so that no one could look at us and criticise us. It may not have had anything to do with the result, but Neil Warnock has had his say and that's obviously because it's a situation where we're all looking at other people's results now.

"You look at that and you think well, perhaps if Viduka and Woodgate had played it might have been a different result, but you can't say. We'll have to see what their side is when they play us. I should imagine that he'll be picking from his fullest squad when they play us because there's been a lot of criticism of their team selection against Man City so I'm sure they're not going to do that again."

Curbs admitted that he's pleased to be going into the Middlesbrough game on the back of an important away win.

"It was a great result for us, up at Blackburn," he said. "I think we're always left wondering if this would have happened and that would have happened, but if we could have held on against Spurs, it would have been a really interesting week.

"Nevertheless it's given us a shout, the players must have some more confidence after the result and we're all looking forward to the Middlesbrough game."