Matthew Bates knows Middlesbrough will bounce back

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MATTHEW Bates admits back-to-back defeats are no way to regain Premier League status.

Boro, beaten 2-0 at home to Leeds United on Sunday, make the tricky trip to promotion rivals Birmingham City this weekend.

Another loss would severely dent the Teessiders’ play-off hopes and could see them slip out of the top six again.

Bates believes Boro must now call upon the resilience they showed during the early part of the campaign as they wind up for the final throes of what has been a gruelling season.

“The first half of the season saw us avoid back-to-back defeats which was great. It’s very important to do that,” he said.

“We have to do that for the rest of the season. Back-to-back defeats will get us into a lot of trouble.

“We need to go to Birmingham on Saturday and try to put this behind us. We haven’t dwelled on any bad performances this season. We tend to bounce back quite well – that’s what we need to do again.

“Birmingham will be tough opposition just like Leeds were on Sunday. Hopefully the result will be different.”

Boro’s next two games – against Birmingham and West Ham – could shape their destiny this term.

Southampton are showing no signs of stopping at the head of the table, but others around them are beginning to stutter, and Bates said: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at the results elsewhere.

“It was a big opportunity missed at the weekend but we have missed opportunities throughout the season, and we have gained opportunities such as the win at Cardiff.

“It’s swings and roundabouts. We’ve got a big game this week against Birmingham, who have play-off ambitions as well as us.”

A staggering 30 of Boro’s 48 points this season have come on the road, and Bates says that can play into their hands, with seven of the last 11 matches away from the Riverside.

“We play differently away from home and maybe that suits us,” he added. “We sit off teams when we’re away and break on them.”

Meanwhile, Boro’s home clash with Southampton on Saturday, April 21, has been moved to a 5.20pm kick-off for coverage on Sky Sports.