Middlesbrough started their last game vs Norwich quite brightly. However, Ruddy Gestede would be sent off after 28 minutes for a silly tackle inside his own half. This would see Norwich go on to dominate the game and eventually come out 1-0 winners.
This loss saw Boro drop six points behind the playoff spots. And if given their recent form, the top six is looking less and less likely each week. Boro do have a chance to redeem themselves this week though as they are at home to 18th place Reading. A win for Middlesbrough is essential if they are to have any chance of reaching the playoffs.
Here is how they might line up.
Despite the poor run of form Pulis is sticking with the 4-2-3-1 and it is very likely we will see that from Boro again this weekend.
GK: Darren Randolph
Randolph made several good saves in Boro’s last game vs Norwich. There was also very little he could have done about their goal. He will start vs Reading.
RB: Ryan Shotton
Shotton had another decent display at right back vs Norwich. And with Cyrus Christie now at Fulham, Shotton looks to be Boro’s main right back for the remainder of the season.
RCB: Daniel Ayala
Ayala, much like all of Middlesbrough’s back four looked pretty solid vs Norwich with their goal mainly the fault of the centre mids. So, it is likely we will see Ayala in at centre back again this weekend.
LCB: Ben Gibson
Gibson also had a decent game for the Teessider’s last time out and he too will keep his place in the starting XI unless he is injured in training midweek.
LB: George Friend
Despite Fabio staying at Boro in the January transfer window his future still looks very much up in the air. He did not make the bench for the Norwich game. This would suggest Friend will remain Middlesbrough’s left back for the rest of the season.
CDM: Muhamed Besic
Both Adam Clayton and Grant Leadbitter did not have good games vs Norwich. With both of them failing to close down players quick enough. Especially Trybull who was able to unleash a thunderbolt that gave Norwich the 1-0 win. So, it is very likely we will see them both dropped and Besic given his debut for Middlesbrough.
CDM: Jonny Howson
Much like Besic Howson is likely to come into the team vs Reading simply because neither Clayton or Leadbitter looked any good vs Norwich.
RM: Adama Traore
Adama Traore had one of his quieter games vs Norwich. But that was in part due to Boro having only 10 men for much of the game. He is still Boro’s brightest attacker and will start on Saturday.
CAM: Stewart Downing
Downing also did very little vs Norwich and Boro will be hoping he puts on a much better display this time out.
LM: Jack Harrison
With Bamford once again having a below-par display in his last game, we could very well see Harrison start vs Reading. He will hopefully bring some much-needed creativity to a poor Boro attack.
ST: Britt Assombalonga
Britt will probably start up top vs Reading, given that Gestede isn’t in great form and he was sent off inside 28 minutes in Boro’s last game. Hopefully, Assombalonga will score his first goal under new boss Tony Pulis this weekend.
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