THE PREVIEW – Boro V Blues

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Blues travel to Middlesbrough in the hope to gain some valuable points after losing at home to Huddersfield last weekend.

Blues currently sit in 7th place and Boro could go top if they beat Blues and Brighton fail to win.

Team news

Blues

Blues have had injury problems in recent weeks, with the likes of Clayton Donaldon (groin) and David Cotterill (leg) out for longer than a month.

There are also doubts about No 1 Tomasz Kuszczak (illness), Jon Toral (leg) and Nicolai Brock-Madsen (ankle).

New signing James Vaughan comes into contention and is likely to start up front.

Boro

Middlesbrough have a fully fit squad coming in to this one.

Damia Abella and Alex Baptiste are the only absentees, with Jonathan Woodgate, Fernando Amorebieta and Adam Forshaw all back and in contention.

Head to head

Boro are unbeaten in 4 matches, winning 6 in 7 games. Whereas Blues have lost three in a row – a fourth defeat would herald their worst league run since April 2014 (five defeats).

Blues have lost on nine of their last 10 visits to Middlesbrough, winning once in March 2013.

Middlesbrough have gone 491 minutes with conceding a goal at the Riverside, their best run since March 2014 (714 minutes).

Likely lineups:

TGA.11.1ST.GA.051.PDF

Manager’s views

Karanka:

“Birmingham are a good team and we have two important games in four days at home.

“I expect a really difficult game as they’re a good side with a young, good manager. (Rowett) is doing really well since he took charge there, they improved a lot last season, and have started this season really well.

“They have good players, are organised, so it will be a tough game.”

rowett-karanka

Rowett:

“I said two weeks ago that we were in for a challenging month. I perhaps didn’t feel it would be quite as challenging as it has been. But that’s what it is. We have got to get through this period, try and get back to what we do best, get some good results and we have been very positive this week in trying to do that.

Sometimes you go on really good runs, we won four games not long ago and didn’t get too excited about it because you always realise as a manager there might be one of these periods around the corner. It’s certainly a testing period but that’s what tests are for, you roll your sleeves up and see if you can answer the test – as simple as that.”

Form

Boro’s last five:

Dec 4 (a) IPSWICH W 2-0

Dec 1 (h) EVERTON L 0-2 (Capital One Cup, 5th rd)

Nov 28 (a) HUDDERSFIELD W 2-0

Nov 20 (h) QPR W 1-0

Nov 3 (a) HULL L 0-3

Birmingham’s last five:

Dec 5 (h) HUDDERSFIELD L 0-2

Nov 28 (a) BRIGHTON L 1-2

Nov 21 (h) CHARLTON L 0-1

Nov 7 (a) FULHAM W 5-2

Nov 3 (h) BLACKBURN D 0-0

Played for both

The following have played for both Boro and Birmingham: Marcus Bent, Wallace Clark, Jack Elkes, Diego Fabbrini, John Fall, Caleb Folan, Curtis Fleming, Jack Hall, Jonathan Grounds, Allan Johnston, Marlon King, Alan Miller, David Murphy, Dick Neal, Bryan Orritt, Jay O’Shea, Stuart Parnaby, Fred Pentland, Jamie Pollock, Kevin Poole, Franck Queudrue, Martin Russell, Geoff Scott, George Smith, Martin Thomas, Steve Vickers, Johnny Vincent, Fred Wilcox, Jimmy Windridge. Coaching connections: Malcolm Beard, Jim Blyth, Jamie Clapham, Terry Cooper, Garry Pendrey, Jim Smith, Bruce Rioch, Colin Todd, David Geddis.

Prediction:

We’re going with a 1-1 draw against one of the promotion contenders. Vaughn with the goal. Let us know your predction!

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