Boro chance for Maccarone

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Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate is ready to throw a Premiership lifeline to Massimo Maccarone.

The Italian international has failed to live up to his £8.15 million price tag since arriving in a blaze of glory in 2002.

He arrived with a tag as one of the hottest properties in European football - but things have not gone well, with just 17 Premiership goals to show for some 76 league appearances.

However, Maccarone cemented his place in Boro folklore for his goalscoring exploits during Boro's extraordinary Uefa Cup run last season when he scored an injury time winner in the semi-final against Steaua Bucharest.

Now Southgate, with Mark Viduka ruled out for over a month, is ready to give Maccarone an extended run in the first team.

"I said at the start of the season, everyone starts with a clean slate. I have a lot of belief in his talent," said Southgate.

"He has not had an extended run in the side. That would be his frustration. Sometimes players need a run in the team, it is not one game or you are out.

"Over the next period he has an opportunity to show what he is about and what he can do. He has to try to stake a claim to impress other people."

Torino have in recent weeks been linked with a move for Maccarone, who spent part of last year on loan at Siena.

However, Southgate insists he has not thought about letting the 27-year-old leave.

"We have not discussed him leaving," said the Middlesbrough manager.

"The fee is irrelevant to him and to me, he didn't decide the fee and neither did I.

"He was a young, talented player leaving home at a very young age, it is not easy to do. As a goalscorer we have to make sure we don't look at other aspects of his performance.

"We have to let him get chances and see what he can do. He is a good finisher. If ever we do shooting sessions he is as good as we have at the club. I have no qualms about his quality."