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Middlesbrough boss fancies keeping Riggott

Chris Riggott scored on his return to Middlesbrough in their 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate has revealed he dragged Riggott off a golf course to answer his club's emergency call.

The 27-year-old defender was recalled from his loan spell at Stoke amid fears that Emanuel Pogatetz would miss Saturday's vital Barclays Premier League clash with Portsmouth, and capped a fine display with the 40th-minute goal which set the Teessiders on the road to victory.

Tuncay Sanli secured the points with a header eight minutes after the break, but it was Riggott who claimed the headlines with a performance which could yet resurrect his career at the Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said: "He had to get himself off the golf course a bit quick because he was on the first tee and it was Thursday afternoon.

"At first, he was very good, he said, 'I am a Middlesbrough player', and then it sort of dawned on him that he was going to miss out on what for Stoke was a celebration game to end up being involved in what was a high-pressure game for us.

"But I have been brutally honest with him over it and I have accepted and understood how he would feel, and he has perhaps appreciated that.

"The good thing is that he has been playing regularly and playing well, and I just felt today we needed as experienced a side out as possible and we needed a big strong back four."

Riggott would have lined up in Stoke's potential promotion decider at home to Leicester on Sunday had Southgate not intervened, and he admitted City boss Tony Pulis was disappointed to lose such an influential player.

But the manager, who played alongside the former Derby defender for Boro before succeeding Steve McClaren, was never in any doubt about his quality, or his chances of forcing his way back into the picture.

He said: "It's very much up to him, really. He's an experienced and good-quality centre-half, so that is something we will sit down and discuss over the summer.

"I know he's good enough to play at this level - the frustration for him has not been getting the opportunities earlier in the year.

"There were a couple of times when he came in and did well and perhaps I should have left him in at that time.

"But I have learnt from those experiences.

"He's our player, he has got a couple of years on his contract and anything is possible.

"As I said, I played with him and I know all about him and what his qualities are, and I certainly won't be forcing him out of the door, that's for certain."

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Tribal Football Staff

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