Norwich old boy Bates targets Carrow Road boost

Former Norwich City loan starlet Matthew Bates aims to finish a 'difficult' week on a positive note on his first Carrow Road return with managerless Middlesbrough.

Bates was forced to cut short a brief spell with the Canaries back in January 2008 after suffering the latest in a series of serious knee injuries that have blighted the England youth international's career.

The 23-year-old has since established himself in the Boro first team but admitted the Teesiders head to Norfolk in need of a major fillip following Gordon Strachan's exit.

Bates was one of the first senior Boro players consulted by chairman Steve Gibson after the club parted company with Strachan prior to the latest midweek Championship defeat at Nottingham Forest.

'It's been a difficult few days,' he said. 'It was a little bit unexpected but it probably shouldn't be a surprise with the way we've started the season. I don't think there's anyone in the dressing room who disliked him. He was a different character and was good to work with.

'It didn't work out for him but I have massive respect for him, he's been great for me and I hope he comes back and is successful somewhere else. It's important that the chairman makes the right decision and speaks to managers and sees what he feels they have to offer. There's no rush, it's still early in the season, he can take a couple of weeks to think about it and I'm sure Steve Gibson will make the right decision.'

Boro coach Steve Agnew remains in caretaker charge for tomorrow's Norwich league game and Bates admitted the pre-season title favourites have to dig deep to turn around their fortunes after another defeat at the City Ground.

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'We had the majority of the possession in the first half but we'd be clutching at straws saying it was a performance,' he told Boro's official site. 'I don't think it was anywhere near the standard we need to be at. We won't make any excuses, we went 1-0 down and from then on it's the same old scenario this season.

'We're trying to force balls and force passes and, playing at the back, there don't seem to be as many passes on into the midfield as there are when it's 0-0 or when you're doing well in the first half. That's not the fault of any of the individual players, it's just that in the position we're in players start to feel a bit of desperation and start playing the long ball. We need to be a bit more composed as a team and keep believing in the way we want to play no matter how the game goes.'

Nigel Pearson, Gary Megson and Tony Mowbray have all been strongly linked with the Riverside vacancy but Gibson is in no rush to make a swift appointment.

'To concentrate on any one individual wouldn't be the wisest thing to do,' he said. 'I've already got agents putting forward all sorts of names. I've been in football a long time and know a lot of people in the game. It's not something we'll rush into. We've got very capable guys in Steve Agnew and Mark Proctor. The players accept responsibility for the position we've been in. What we've got to do now is improve results on the pitch.'