Middlesbrough could muster just one point from their trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday as Sunderland mustered a late draw against Tony Pulis’ men. The Riversiders are now placed at the 8th spot in the Championship table with 52 points to their name after 34 games and will be disappointed after the six-goal thriller.
They are due to host Paul Heckingbottom’s Leeds United at the Riverside Stadium on Friday and here is the latest team news of Middlesbrough and how we expect Pulis to roll out his starting line-up.
The Smoggies are expected to be without the services of skipper, Grant Leadbitter, who is an injury doubt with a hamstring problem. However, Pulis will have Adama Traore available after the red card he was shown against Sunderland was rescinded. Rudy Gestede is out for the rest of the season and there is no denying that he could have been a massive player for Middlesbrough against the Whites.
Darren Randolph is expected to start in goal once again. The 30-year-old shot-stopper has notched 12 clean sheets from 34 league appearances and has made 2.15 saves per game on an average. He has had a decent season so far and must continue to do so to give his side a chance for promotion.
Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala could start at the heart of the defence once again as they have forged a decent partnership together. At the left-back position, we expect to see George Friend yet again whereas in the right-back position, Pulis is likely to give Ryan Shotton the nod to start.
As Leadbitter is sidelined, Pulis is expected to deploy Adam Clayton in the middle of the park alongside Muhamed Besic. Clayton and Besic certainly have the calibre to shield the backline and knit the side together with their passes and vision. Stewart Downing is expected to play as the no.10 and his creativity will be key.
Britt Assombalonga has smashed in 12 goals in the Championship this season. He is expected to spearhead the side once again and will want to make his presence felt in such an important game.
Patrick Bamford scored twice against the Black Cats and he is expected to start on the left-wing whereas the pace that Traore offers should urge Pulis to use him as an inverted winger on the right.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored & Squawka