Tony Pulis revealed his starting XI for Middlesbrough’s crucial play-off clash with Aston Villa 24 hours in advance – and says his players are raring to go.
The Boro boss will send his side out at the Riverside tomorrow (5.15pm kick-off) as he looks to get a first-leg advantage over Steve Bruce’s side.
Pulis has already tipped Bruce off as to his line-up for the game, revealing it will be the same team which played the final Championship game of the season at Ipswich, but says he’s confident in the system and form of his team.
Consistency in team selections is the key for him.
“My team is the team that I picked for Ipswich,” Pulis said.
“I’m not hiding anything. That’s my team and that’s the way we’ll go out and play.
“For me, it’s probably more difficult to get into my team than out of it – and, if you’ve got the shirt and show effort and commitment, I like to have stable teams and continuity.
“When you come into football teams mid-season, as I have before, you look at what the strengths of the players are.
“It’s not about Tony Pulis or the coaching staff, it’s about the players.
“We’ve come into good form over the past six weeks and found a system that suits everybody now.
“It’s looked a well-oiled machine, and we’ve got to make sure that machine is pumping at a level to get us through these two games.”
Pulis is happy to pick the same starting XI given the way his players have come through training this week, with no fresh injuries or selection issues.
“The players have been brilliant, really buoyant this week,” he added. “After a tough game at Ipswich in very tough conditions, they’ve been very focused and right on the front foot. We just want the game to start.
“Someone said ‘have you got any injuries?’
“You could have got a bus out there and knocked a few of them over, and they’d have bounced back up to be ready to play.”