Middlesbrough were humbled 3-0 by Aston Villa last time around in the Championship which saw them slip four points behind the direct promotion spots. Next, they will take on Blackburn Rovers at home, and Tony Pulis would look to get his side’s season back on track.
Even after conceding three in the last game, Boro have the best defensive record in the league so far, and we expect them to be back to their usual best in this tie against the Rovers at the Riverside Stadium. Tony Mowbray’s side have conceded nine goals in their last three campaigns, and their leaky defence can be exploited by the likes of Jordan Hugill and Stewart Downing.
Rudy Gestede is currently out with an injury. Ryan Shotton and Sam McQueen are also set to miss out. Shotton has been a significant miss on the right back position for Pulis as his attacking runs used to create a lot of trouble to the oppositions.
Middlesbrough predicted lineup vs Blackburn Rovers
Darren Randolph is a nailed on starter in goal for the Teessiders. Aiden Flint and Danny Batth would be expected to get back to their usual best after an indifferent performance against the Villans. The two should once again start as the central defensive pair. Down the right, Dael Fry has filled in for Shotton, and he is once again going to start in that role. George Friend is expected to start down the left though Pulis would want him to contribute more on the attacking front.
Adam Clayton has been struggling of late with his form, but he is expected to keep his place and should start in the defensive midfield role. Muhamed Besic should start in a slightly more advanced position in midfield, and he would have the onus to be the workhorse of the team. Jonny Howson will have the job of providing more creative output and opening up Blackburn’s defence through the middle.
Martin Braithwaite and Marcus Tavernier are fighting for the spot to start on the left flank, and we believe Braithwaite should get the nod ahead of Tavernier. On the right, the very experienced Stewart Downing is a nailed on starter, and he would play in the role of an inverted winger. Even at the age of 34, Pulis depends heavily on him and he has been a regular feature in his side so far.
Jordan Hugill has been a regular starter over Britt Assombalonga of late, and this isn’t expected to change even for this tie.
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