The race for the playoffs is getting tighter and merely one point separates Middlesbrough from Bristol City, with the former placed at the 6th spot in the Championship table and the latter at the 7th position.
Tony Pulis’ men could only engineer a 1-1 draw against Burton Albion in their last league fixture. The Smoggies are due to host Nottingham Forest at the Riverside Stadium later today and they must strive to get all three points.
Middlesbrough Team News
Fabio is fit again after a thigh injury and he played for the Under-23 side earlier this week.
Here is how we expect Pulis to roll out his starting line-up against Aitor Karanka’s side.
Darren Randolph has been pretty solid between the sticks this season and he is likely to be handed the role of the custodian in the upcoming fixture. The 30-year-old has notched up 14 clean sheets from 40 appearances in the Championship this season, making 2.15 saves per game on an average.
Martin Cranie started as the right-back against the Brewers on Monday but he is expected to be replaced by Ryan Shotton in the upcoming fixture. Meanwhile, George Friend has been a really productive asset for the Riversiders from the left-back slot and is likely to start once again.
The duo comprising of Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala is expected to be pencilled at the heart of the defence. Gibson and Ayala have a decent chemistry and have to be on their toes throughout the game in the upcoming fixture.
Pulis is expected to make a change to his midfield trio, with Jonny Howson likely to lose his place in the starting line-up to Adam Clayton. Clayton is expected to start from the middle of the park, with Grant Leadbitter to his right and Muhamed Besic to his left.
These three midfielders need to step up against the Tricky Trees and there is no denying that. Their duties will include shielding the back line, breaking opposition’s attacking pursuits, dictating the tempo of the game and galloping forward to create chances for their side.
Patrick Bamford might have to make way for Britt Assombalonga. The latter scored against Burton Albion after coming off the bench. Assombalonga is a clinical striker and has already plundered 13 goals in the Championship.
Stewart Downing should keep his place on the left-wing, with Adama Traore on the right-wing. Traore has rendered his attacking prowess in the final third on a regular basis for Boro and offensively, he will be a key player against Karanka’s side.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored & Squawka