Wright sends timely message to Venables


ALAN WRIGHT delivered his own personal message to England coach Terry Venables in the year of the European Championship finals.

The Villa defender has moved into the international reckoning with some assured performances in the left-back spot.

Venables will be looking for cover for Stuart Pearce should Graeme Le Saux fail to make this summer's big event through a serious leg injury.

Wright did his cause a power of good at the Riverside Stadium with a stunning strike in the 21st minute to score his first goal in Villa's colours after a surprise switch from Blackburn.

Tommy Johnson then secured the points with a second goal after 40 minutes.

That sealed another miserable day for Middlesbrough, who have lost their last three Premiership matches without scoring.

Player-manager Bryan Rob son has lost the backbone of his side through injury with Nick Barmby, Craig Hignett, Jan Fjortoft, Derek Whyte, Chris Morris and Robbie Mustoe all ruled out.

Brazilian ace Juninho got little support and, not for the first time, looked out of sorts and far from home.

There was a touch of Brazilian football about the goals, though, which were superbly fashioned and superbly executed.

Gary Charles whipped in a cross to the edge of the penalty area and Wright teed up his shot with his left boot and sent a crashing volley past keeper Gary Walsh into the top corner.

Johnson put the game out of Middlesbrough's reach five minutes before the break after a flowing move with Andy Townsend delivering the final pass. Johnson turned quickly inside the box to fire a shot across Walsh into the corner.

Middlesbrough were restricted, to a handful of half chances with Jaime Moreno snatching at a corner from Juninho to fire high into the crowd from close range.

Juninho should have pulled a goal back for Middlesbrough when John Hendrie delivered a fine cross but the little midfielder snatched at it and the shot was taken safely by Mark Bosnich.

Middlesbrough midfielder Jamie Pollock was lucky to escape a booking after showing his stoods and flooring Savo Milosevic with a biting, two-footed tackle.

Dwight Yorke, who was always a handful for the home defence, was denied the chance of putting Villa further ahead by a splendid save from Walsh after Milosevic had broken clear.

Juninho was again out of luck when he found space in the penalty area. His shot had enough power but Bosnich did well to get down and turn it round the post.