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Daws' eyes on Teeside

Michael Dawson has remained focused on the date that really matters throughout our hectic pre-season.

Michael Dawson has remained focused on the date that really matters throughout our hectic pre-season.

That date is Saturday week, August 16, and the start of our Barclays Premier League campaign at Middlesbrough.

This Sunday's high-profile friendly against Italian giants AS Roma will be our final preparation and ‘Daws' insists six weeks of hard work has been all about the first whistle at the Riverside.

"Pre-season is hectic but that first game comes around quicker than you think," he said. "All the hard work has been about that date and hopefully we'll be flying by the time we step out at Middlesbrough.

"We got off to a bad start last season and were always playing catch up and it's hard to do that in the Premier League.

"If you lose a couple you are down at the bottom end of the table and putting four or five wins together is tough. You get edgy, it puts extra pressure on and it's like a vicious circle.

"We're all determined to make a better start this time around."