Match Preview: Ipswich Town vs Middlesbrough

The normal season draws to a close on Sunday with Middlesbrough travelling to mid-table Ipswich Town (12:30pm kick off).

For Boro though, there’s at least another two games left of a roller-coaster campaign after victory over Millwall confirmed their place in the Championship play-offs.

Hosts Ipswich can finish between 12th and 15th and therefore have nothing to play for other than the small matter of East Anglian bragging rights.

The Tractor Boys will finish above their rivals Norwich for the first time since 2010 if they better the Canaries result at Sheffield Wednesday.

Although Boro can’t finish any higher than fifth, maintaining momentum in the final game before the play-offs get underway will no doubt be on Tony Pulis’s matchday checklist.

Team news

There are no major injures for Boro to contend with, but Tony Pulis admits several players could be rested for the trip to Portman Road.

Pulis also revealed Mo Besic, Stewart Downing and Daniel Ayala were unable to train earlier this week, but expects them to be fit for Sunday’s game.

“It’s whether one or two need a rest more than anything else but I’ll decide that closer to the game,” he said.

“It’s an important game in terms of keeping the momentum going, so the players have to approach it in the right way.

“If you don’t do that then that is when bad things like injuries can happen. Plus there will be a good number of supporters going, who have paid good money, so we have a responsibility to them.”

Ipswich will be without midfielder Grant Ward, who is currently serving a three-match suspension following his red card during the 4-0 defeat by Aston Villa on April 21st.

Luke Hyam (injury) and Cole Skuse (illness) could return to the fold after missing the 4-0 win at Reading.

What the managers say

Bryan Klug:

“Tony Pulis is not going to want to lose any momentum. He may well decide that he can rest one or two, but even if they do that they’re not exactly short of players.

“Any players that do come in will want to impress and give the manager a problem. Plus, they’ll have a fantastic support here so there’s no way that you can think it’s going to be anything but a massive challenge for us.”

Tony Pulis:

“It’s very important that people understand, irrespective of what is on the game, we have a responsibility to our supporters who are going down there to watch a game of football.

“Whether I go with the team that has won over the past three or four weeks, or whether I change it, whoever puts on the shirt it’s important they go out there and keep up the momentum for us.”

Match stats

  • Ipswich have failed to score in each of their past three league matches against Middlesbrough (D1 L2).
  • Middlesbrough have not won back-to-back away league visits to Ipswich since April 1977.
  • The Blues have won just one of their past eight league games at Portman Road (D3 L4).
  • Middlesbrough are one of four Championship sides yet to have lost a single game in which they have been leading (Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Wolves also).
  • Ipswich Town, alongside Norwich City, have made 124 line-up changes this campaign, the most in the division.
  • No Championship player has scored as many goals without providing a single assist this season as Britt Assombalonga (15 goals, 0 assists).

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