MIDDLESBROUGH’S Nicky Bailey has been ruled for up to six weeks, leaving boss Tony Mowbray with an injury crisis ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury.
The 27-year-old could be out of action for seven matches, joining a long list of injuries in Boro’s central midfield, but Mowbray is feeling positive ahead of the third-round clash.
He said: “Nicky’s got a medial knee ligament injury and will be out for four to six weeks.
“It’s a blow but I’m sure we will bounce back and find a performance on Saturday.”
Bailey, who has been nominated for December’s Championship Player of the Month, has been a key player this season but picked up the injury in the 1-1 draw with Peterborough on New Year’s Eve.
Boro were then beaten 3-0 by Blackpool on Monday and Mowbray agrees that the injury is a big loss to the team.
“He’s adapted very well to the position we’ve asked him to play and he enjoys the role so it will be disappointing for him to miss football matches,” he said.
“If we’ve got injuries we have to play the lads who are available.”
Boro may have been looking to rest key players this weekend with crucial league games coming up against Burnley, Coventry and Leicester City, as they continue to pursue a path back into the Premier League.
Faris Haroun and Rhys Williams are set to deputise in midfield on Saturday with Richie Smallwood, Malaury Martin, Tarmo Kink and Luke Williams hoping for an opportunity.
The home team are still without key midfielders Julio Arca, Kevin Thomson, Marouane Zemmama and Barry Robson.
Meanwhile, Shrewsbury manager Graham Turner believes his team have a good chance of causing an upset.
“We cannot go to Middlesbrough and (just) go there to see if we can get a result because if we can really play then we can cause them problems,” he said.
“We’ve shown in the Carling Cup that we can give teams from higher leagues a real test.”
Shrews fans have already taken up half of the away tickets for the match, anticipating the possibility of an upset after Boro were knocked out by League Two opposition in last year’s competition.
Turner added: “The FA Cup still has a bit of magic and it creates a lot of interest.”