Danny Graham admits Middlesbrough is a club close to his heart but that won’t stop last weekend’s hat-trick hero doing all he can to win three points for Rovers on Saturday.

Rovers head to the Riverside this weekend, a club where the 33-year-old striker learned his craft before re-joining on loan in 2014.

Boss Tony Mowbray, a Boro legend, will make his first Riverside return as a manager, having served the club as both player and boss, while Richie Smallwood is another Rovers player with Teesside connections.

Rovers head to the north east buoyed by last weekend’s win over Sheffield Wednesday in which Graham scored his first hat-trick in 10 years in a 4-2 victory.

“I enjoyed it there and I started there as a youngster but I went back there on loan,” he said of his time with Middlesbrough.

“I still live in the town and my kids are brought up there.

“It is close to my heart and I will be looking forward to going back there but I will be looking to go back there and win all three points.”

While Rovers secured a morale-boosting win last weekend, Boro tasted defeat for just the third time this season, losing 3-0 to Aston Villa.

Despite that defeat Tony Pulis’ side still posses the best defensive record in the division.

And Graham added: “It will be a big challenge after their defeat on Saturday.

“They will be wanting a reaction and they might see Blackburn being a perfect opportunity.

“But we need to go there and stick to our game plan and do what we have done in the last game and take it into the match.”

This Middlesbrough trip will be Rovers’ first away game since the back-to-back defeats at Wigan and Preston in which they shipped seven goals.

Mowbray branded the 3-1 reverse at Wigan as the worst performance of his tenure, which made Saturday’s win over the Owls at Ewood Park all the more satisfying.

“We owed the fans. In the two games before that we had not been up to scratch and had not been good enough,” said Graham who brought up his 100th Rovers appearance last weekend.

“We had let everyone down and we knew that.

“It was good to get a result and put in a good performance.”

After the Wednesday game Mowbray described Graham, who now has eight goals this season, as one of the best one-touch finishers he had ever worked with.

So is that natural ability or years of work honing his skills?

“I think it is down to a bit of both with natural instincts and hard work on the training ground,” Graham said.

“We have shooting sessions before games and there are eight or 10 lads joining in.

“The most important thing at the minute is winning football matches and we managed to do that.

“The gaffer singing our praises is nice but we cannot rest on our laurels and we will make sure we are ready for Saturday.”

And after a ringing endorsement from his manager, Graham returned the favour in praising the 55-year-old - who penned a new three-and-a-half year deal at the club last week.

“I am delighted he has done a fantastic job since he came into this football club,” the striker added.

“He has fully deserved it and it only means positive things for us.”