RAYHAAN Tulloch is primed to wow the Valley Parade crowd as he leads the Carabao Cup charge against Middlesbrough tomorrow night.

The winger made an impressive first start at Newport on Saturday where he weighed in with a goal and an assist in City’s 4-1 win.

Mark Hughes thought the on-loan West Brom flyer caught the home fans by surprise - and will be hoping for more of the same in the third-round tie with Boro.

“In the opening period, he probably took a few Newport supporters aback with the level of skill that he’s got,” said Hughes.

“It’s what we see from him in training every day when he ships it very quickly from one foot to the other.

“The reaction of the crowd was telling. They realised, ‘goodness me, this guy could be a problem’ and he certainly was.

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“I thought his selection of passing was good. He worked hard for the group as well, so that’s important for him.

“I’m pleased for him because it was his first real start and a very good performance.”

Tulloch’s three previous City outings following his deadline-day arrival had all been off the bench. It was his longest appearance since June playing in the League of Ireland for Dundalk.

“It’s a case of just getting him up to speed and that’s been the same with all the players that we’ve brought in,” added Hughes.

“That’s been the process we’ve tried to build to in the last few weeks.

“We just looked a lot more experienced and solid and in charge of our performance on Saturday. We were dictating to the opposition and not the other way round, which doesn’t happen to us very often anyway.

“It was about going there and being positive and making sure we did the right things.”

Tulloch crossed for Andy Cook’s opening goal before helping himself to the second from Kevin McDonald’s pass.

“Ray was different class and deserved his goal,” said Cook. “He played well and put a great ball in for my first.”

Alex Pattison is pushing to being included in the 20-man squad to face Middlesbrough - the club where his career began as a youngster.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Cook scored a hat-trick against Middlesbrough in pre-seasonAndy Cook scored a hat-trick against Middlesbrough in pre-season (Image: Thomas Gadd)

The midfielder, who started the campaign with three goals, has been out with a hamstring injury since going off at half-time in the previous round at Wrexham.

Hughes said: “We’re in good heart. We’re getting people back and getting them up to speed.

“There’s still a little bit of a way to go in terms of that. Kev McDonald will be a big influence but he’s still not quite where he needs to be.

“A lot of the other guys, like Ray, haven’t had a lot of game time but he’ll get better.

“We are where we are because of certain things but Saturday showed that we are on the right track.”

Middlesbrough have had a sticky start in the Championship and were bottom until they claimed a first win of the season at the weekend, coming from behind to beat Southampton.

“That was important for them,” said Hughes. “It would possibly have been better for us if they’d got beaten but it was against one of my former teams so don’t cry too many tears for them.

“We’ll be in good shape and we’ll give it a good go. It’s one we’re all looking forward to.

“It’s easier going into a game like that against higher opposition with a win under our belts.”