x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

No history lessons for forward-thinking Southgate

Gareth Southgate will put history to one side as he attempts to win the FA Cup and stay in the Premier League.

Gareth Southgate will put history to one side as he attempts to win the FA Cup and stay in the Premier League. His Middlesbrough side head into today's quarter-final against Everton at Goodison Park entrenched in a desperate fight to retain their top-flight status. Whatever happens on Merseyside, the Teessiders will return knowing they have 10 games in which to stave off relegation - something they famously failed to do the last time they reached the final of club football's most famous knockout competition.

Back in 1997, a Boro side including Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson went to Wembley twice - losing the League Cup final to Leicester after a replay and then the FA Cup final to Chelsea. However, worse was to follow as they slipped out of the Premier League - and the pain of that treble disappointment remains acute for the club's supporters. But as memories of that season come flooding back, Southgate is adamant they are irrelevant.

He said: "It's not really of any relevance. It's recent history, but it doesn't have any bearing. It's a different group of players, a different group of staff - and we are looking forward. "I hope we get to a final - that's the first thing; then it's for us to make sure we get our league form sorted. "But we are only at the quarter- final stage at the moment with a hell of a game on our hands, so we can worry about those sorts of scenarios a bit further down the line."

Injury plagued Louis Saha has had his share of bad luck when it comes to the FA Cup. But the striker is keeping his fingers crossed that Everton can reach the final at Wembley this year - and he can stay fit. Saha, who has started just one match since November following a hamstring injury, should figure at Goodison Park against Boro. Saha said: "To play in an FA Cup final with Everton would mean everything to me. Having missed a few finals [through injuries] it would make me very happy to participate in the final of such a big competition.

"It is something I dream about and I really think we have a chance of winning the Cup. We are capable of doing it. Confidence is very high at the moment and it is just a matter of showing that on the day." * PA Sport