Tony Pulis has demanded his Middlesbrough players keep their focus ahead of the crunch game with play-off rivals Derby County, writes Michael Grahamslaw.
Boro, fifth in the Championship, travel to seventh-placed Derby County this afternoon (KO 3pm) with just three games remaining of the league campaign.
Middlesbrough have picked up five points from their last four games and Pulis is confident going into the game.
Pulis insisted his side are not concerned about what other sides are doing and is fully focused on Boro’s own ambitions.
“It’s important you never take your focus off what’s important and that is Saturday, The most important thing is to focus on what you can affect,” said Pulis.
“They’ve been up there all season, Gary Rowett has done a very good job there and we know it’s going to be a very tough game.”
Despite Derby’s recent defeats to Derby and Sunderland, Pulis maintains that Derby are still a huge threat.
“You’ve got to turn up every week, if you don’t turn up, you won’t get results. Derby maybe didn’t turn up to those games [Sunderland and Burton] but they’ve got some very good players.” said Pulis.
Boro’s main injury concern - Patrick Bamford is set to miss out, meaning Britt Assombalonga will likely lead the line with Pulis stating adding: “I don’t think Patrick will make it unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll take that risk, It’s disappointing for us but it gives Britt the chance to play.
“Hopefully he can get himself a goal, because that’s what we need. If he gets a break and does that he could go on a run.
“Fingers crossed he’ll come to the party and show just what he’s worth.”
Grant Leadbitter is back in contention following his suspension, but Pulis still has a couple of injury worries going into the game.
“We’ve had one or two knocks and niggles,” Pulis said.
“Stewart [Downing] and Gibbo [Ben Gibson] haven’t trained this week and we’re hoping they will be OK.”
For Derby, Andreas Weimann and Kasey Palmer are doubts after picking up knocks against Burton on Saturday but Rowett has seen Bradley Johnson and Marcus Olsson return to training this week.
Ikechi Anya is still out, along with Sam Winnall.