Middlesbrough are currently in an extremely strong position in the Championship. They are currently third in the table, just two points behind leaders Sheffield United. Tony Pulis will be pleased with how his boys have played thus far but he is well aware that the road is long and things will get tougher. Still, the base has been set and he certainly has the players to sustain this.
They are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw against Derby County. A match which saw two own-goals being scored and on the balance of play, it was probably a fair result.
Next up for the Smoggies is an EFL Cup fixture against Premier League side, Crystal Palace. A place in the quarter-finals is up for grabs and this will be an interesting clash to watch out for.
Roy Hodgson has rung in the changes in both the games in the competition but hasn’t had difficulty in getting the results. He had made nine changes for the match against Swansea City and ten when they faced West Bromwich Albion, emerging 3-0 victors.
We expect both the managers to make a number of changes with Pulis announcing the same in his pre-match conference.
”The Palace game, I’ll make a lot of changes, I’ve got to do that.
The players have had so many games and people forget about the international break, some players have played for their countries in the heart of Europe.
I’ll be looking at the team carefully although we want to do well and want to win the game.”
Middlesbrough have fielded stronger sides as the tournament has progressed but we expect a pretty similar side to the one that had faced Preston North End in the last round.
PREDICTED MIDDLESBROUGH LINEUP TO FACE CRYSTAL PALACE (3-4-1-2)
Dimitrios Konstantopoulos is likely to get the nod in place of regular keeper Darren Randolph.
A back three looks a likely option. Dael Fry is expected to retain his place from the last game. The other two slots can be taken by Danny Batth and Paddy McNair. McNair has been featuring for the first team since the injury to Ryan Shotton. He has been impressive and his versatility might come into play tomorrow.
The two wingbacks are likely to be Marcus Tavernier and Sam McQueen. In the central midfield, we expected Grant Leadbitter to start alongside George Saville. The latter made an appearance in the second half against Derby and will relish an opportunity to start this game.
23-year-old Lewis Wing should start in a slightly more advanced position and take up the slot behind the two strikers.
Ashley Fletcher scored against PNE and will be keen to replicate something similar. He will start in a two-man frontline alongside Rudy Gestede who had notched an assist in the same match.