Middlesbrough secured a commendable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest last weekend at the Riverside Stadium to keep their hold on the 6th spot in the league table. On Wednesday, the Riversiders are due to face Sheffield United at the Bramall Lane and the match holds paramount importance for Tony Pulis’ men in their quest for promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough Team News
Rudy Gestede is out for the rest of the season owing to his ankle injury but apart from him, Pulis has every key player available for the midweek match.
Here is how we expect Pulis to roll out his starting line-up against Chris Wilder’s troops.
Darren Randolph has been ever-present under the bar for the Smoggies this season in the Championship and the 30-year-old custodian is likely to start yet again. Randolph has had a good season in the English second division, having collected 15 clean sheets from 41 appearances and has made 2.17 saves per game on an average.
Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala should start at the heart of the back line of Pulis’ side once again. While Gibson has been thoroughly resilient in the air and has read the attacking endeavours of the opposition in a meticulous fashion, Ayala has been one of the best defenders in the league this season.
Martin Cranie might replace Ryan Shotton in the right-back slot. Cranie is a formidable fullback and maintains a superb balance between his offensive and defensive duties. Meanwhile, the experienced George Friend has been a handy asset for Middlesbrough from the left-back position and he is likely to keep his place in the starting XI.
Against Wilder’s men, we anticipate that Pulis is going to roll out the trio of Jonny Howson, Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton in the middle of the park. Muhamed Besic might find himself on the bench this time around. Howson, Leadbitter and Clayton are more than capable of winning midfield battles and should do a fine job together in the midweek fixture.
Britt Assombalonga might get the nod to start ahead of Patrick Bamford as the former West Bromwich Albion manager might be looking to rest the latter. Assombalonga has found the back of the net on 13 occasions in the league this season and will be aiming to add to his tally.
Meanwhile, the cutting edge that Adama Traore provides should see him getting picked on the right-wing whereas, on the left-wing, we expect Stewart Downing to start and showcase his attacking prowess in the final third.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored & Squawka