sport

Graham targets Boro goal joy

Danny Graham believes he is a stronger person having endured his current goal drought - and he is hoping to feel the joy of scoring once again for Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The 28-year-old has only scored once in 14 months - ironically against former club Swansea for Hull City and he did not celebrate.

Now the on-loan Sunderland striker hopes to net for Boro against Ipswich on Saturday and so end a seven game goal drought for the club - the worst run in their history.

He told the Daily Star he would not be toning down his celebrations if he finally scores for the Championship club where he started his senior career.

"No way. It was bloody typical that my one goal so far this season came against Swansea because I don't like celebrating in front of old team-mates," he said.

"No disrespect to Ipswich but I've got no connections with them so hopefully, the fans will see me enjoying myself if I score."

The former Carlisle and Watford striker believes a pivotal moment in his goal-scoring problems came when he failed to find the net after he came off the bench against Reading in his first game for Sunderland in February last year.

Affect

"A few years ago, if I wasn't scoring, I let it affect me far too much," he said.

"At Carlisle, I went 10 or 11 games without a goal and I'd be walking around with a long face.

"But not now. Of course, confidence is low because like all strikers, I want to be scoring goals.

"Off the pitch, however, I'm still the same happy guy.

"It's hard to put my finger on it though I look back on my Sunderland debut and wonder how things could have been so different.

"I came off the bench at Reading and within a few minutes met a corner with my head and thought I'd scored only for the keeper to pull off a great save.

"Had that gone in, I'd have been on my way but it's been a struggle since then.

"I don't shy away from the fact 2013 was bitterly disappointing but while my confidence isn't as high as it once was, I'm still the same player and I believe I'm also a stronger person."