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Southgate delighted with Middlesbrough matchwinner Aliadiere

Middlesbrough striker Jeremie Aliadiere was the matchwinner in their 1-0 victory over Fulham.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate hailed Aliadiere's current run of goalscoring form but believes he is still growing both physically and mentally in his first full season of Premier League football.

Southgate said: "Jeremie has been outstanding for us all season and especially in the last two months or so. He has played unselfishly and now he is making the most of his chances and his confidence is growing.

"It is a bit like having some of our young 19 or 20-year-olds who are in the same position as Jeremie in that they have not had that full season of football. He is growing in strength all the time."

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson insisted he would take plenty of encouragement from his side's performance despite a result which leaves the Cottagers deeper in relegation trouble.

Hodgson said: "I can't say I'm dissatisfied with our performance. We passed it quite well, we worked hard defensively and we showed a lot of grit.

"It was Boro hanging onto their victory rather than us looking in danger of going more goals down. At this stage you have to take any signs of encouragement and there were signs of encouragement today."

Hodgson revealed his pre-match plans had been hit by the overnight loss of defender Aaron Hughes with a stomach infection and was full of praise for the way his reshuffled side approached the game.

Hodgson added: "We had the misfortune of losing Aaron overnight and drafting Chris Baird in as a late replacement so given that I've got to be pretty happy with our performance at the back."

Hodgson believed the three points would be enough to keep Boro clear of an impending relegation battle.

He added: "It was a major step in the right direction for them and a setback for us.

"We all know in this league two or three bad results on the spin can spiral you down there once again.

"I don't think Gareth will be nonchalant in any way or feeling the battle is won but he is on the right track."

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Tribal Football Staff

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