Jonny Bullock hosts another episode of the Boro Breakdown podcast, where he looks ahead to Boro’s trip to play-off rivals Derby County.
Like Boro’s last opponents Bristol City, Derby have been inconsistent of late which has led to questions being asked of manager Gary Rowett.
They dropped out of the top six last weekend having fallen to a 3-1 defeat away to the Championship’s worst home side and bottom club Burton Albion.
Boro, meanwhile, are buoyant after victory last weekend lifted them back into the play-off places and up to fifth.
Will this be another crucial three points for Boro or will they slip up against another rival?
Boro will have Grant Leadbitter back from suspension but Patrick Bamford is set to miss out against his former side following the head injury he sustained against Bristol City.
“I don’t think Patrick will make it, I don’t think we’ll take that risk,” Tony Pulis told Boro’s website.
“Patrick has been OK but the doctor is adamant he needs a few more days. It’s disappointing for us but it gives Britt (Assombalonga) the chance to play.
Stewart Downing and Ben Gibson are carrying for knocks, but Pulis is hoping to have them available to play.
For the hosts, Andreas Weimann (shoulder) and Kasey Palmer (knee) are expected to be fit.
What the managers say
“We played really well against Middlesbrough (in November). They had a lot of the ball but we had a clinical moment where we counter-attacked and scored, and the next thing you know we were 3-0 up.
“It was one of the best performances of the season, to go to a place like that when they were in reasonably good form, so it was a fantastic game.”
“It’s all about Middlesbrough, we won’t be talking too much about Derby. We like to focus on ourselves and what we can do well and not worry too much about Derby.”
- Derby are looking to complete an English Football League double over Middlesbrough for the first time since the 1988-89 campaign.
- Middlesbrough have scored in each of their last 16 visits to Derby in all competitions, last failing to score in a 2-0 defeat in August 1991.
- Gary Rowett and Tony Pulis’ only previous managerial match-up was in January 2015 in the FA Cup fourth round, a 2-1 win for Pulis as West Bromwich Albion boss away at Birmingham City.
- Pulis has won his last two matches at Pride Park in all competitions, both by a 2-0 scoreline, in February 2007 and January 2012, and both while he was manager of Stoke.
- Matej Vydra has scored five goals in his last four league starts against Middlesbrough, netting a hat-trick in this season’s reverse fixture.
- Middlesbrough have won just one of their last seven away Championship games, losing three (D3).