Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray says Scott McDonald deserves his place in the first-team, despite a run of one goal in 15 games this season.
The Australia international, 28, has not scored for the Teessiders since mid-August when he netted in the 3-1 Championship win at Barnsley.
"If Scott wasn't working as hard as he is at the moment then he wouldn't be in the team," Mowbray told BBC Tees.
"His goals return wouldn't warrant it but he brings a fantastic work ethic."
McDonald has scored 19 goals in 67 appearances for Boro since his move from Celtic in February 2010, with 14 in 40 games last season.
His record in Scotland was more prolific with 109 strikes in 253 games at Motherwell and Celtic, including 31 in his first season at Parkhead.
"I've supported him and he's getting time on the pitch and playing, I'm sure the goals will come," Mowbray added.
"He's scored goals throughout his career and he just needs to keep working hard."
In contrast, Marvin Emnes has enjoyed his most profitable season with Middlesbrough since his £3m move from Sparta Rotterdam in July 2008.
The 23-year-old has 10 in 18 games, after he established the lead in Tuesday's 3-1 victory at Doncaster Rovers.
"He also scored a header in the last home game [against Derby County], so hopefully that will see him back on a reasonable run," said Mowbray.
"You can't score in every game, but with two in three it's good for Marvin to be back in the six-yard box to finish that off, I'm delighted for him."
Emnes has scored 40% of Middlesbrough's total goal tally of 25 this season, with Barry Robson four strikes behind on six.