Predicted Middlesbrough line-up to face Blackburn in the Championship
After suffering a damaging defeat against Sheffield United, Middlesbrough return to action this Sunday against lower mid-table side Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Tony Pulis’ men were passive, to say the least, against the Blades, and deserved nothing out of that game. Daniel Ayala’s sending off and Aden Flint’s injury made the matter worse as Boro were left short at the back.
They must anyhow dust themselves down and aim to get back to winning ways if they are to challenge for a top-six finish. Currently, they are sixth in the table, but only ahead of seventh-placed Derby County on goal difference.
Boro will be up against a Blackburn side, who have lost their previous two league games and look out of touch. However, that doesn’t mean Pulis’ side may have an easy game this weekend.
Daniel Ayala got sent off after two mistimed tackles, while his centre-back partner Flint got injured and had to be taken off. Hence, there is a possibility that Boro will have one available centre-back for this game. Sam McQueen doesn’t have a return date.
Predicted Middlesbrough XI
Manager: Tony Pulis
Darren Randolph (GK)
He is their first-choice and starts every league game. If it was not for Randolph, Boro would have conceded more against Sheffield United.
John Obi Mikel (RCB)
With Ayala and Flint out, we could see Mikel dropping in to deputise at centre-back.
Dael Fry (CB)
He is the only available centre-back for this game and should start in the middle of a three-man defence.
George Friend (LCB)
The captain deputised in central defence after Ayala’s sending off. He is expected to start on the left-hand side of the back three this Sunday.
Ryan Shotton (RWB)
He was mediocre at best against the Blades and must improve, failing which Boro could be vulnerable at the back given that they are short on centre-backs.
George Saville (CM)
The midfielder produced a passive performance in the midweek, keeping in sync with the team’s overall display. He should improve against Blackburn, possibly alongside Besic in the midfield
Muhamed Besic (CM)
The loanee from Everton should start this game as Mikel is expected to deputise at centre-back.
Stewart Downing (LWB)
He played at left wing-back and at left-back for a few minutes against the Blades after Ayala was sent off. With Friend tucked in, Downing could get another go in a different position this Sunday.
Jonny Howson (LW)
He worked hard for the team but the final product was lacking. Expect the experienced player to improve ahead of this game.
Lewis Wing (RW)
He cut a frustrated figure last time as the attacks kept breaking down. Wing should take a bit more responsibility to carry the threat in the final third.
Jordan Hugill (ST)
Didn’t have many chances against Sheffield United and remained ineffective throughout the game. Expect something better from the West Ham loanee on Sunday.