Garry Monk wants to sign off for the first international break of the season with a 100% home Championship record for Middlesbrough.
Boro have beaten Sheffield United and Burton Albion at home, though away defeats at Wolves and Nottingham Forest mean they are ninth going into tomorrow’s home clash with seventh-top Preston (3pm).
“We need to try to keep it going at home,” said Monk.
“The Riverside has been good for us. But we said, even before the first game, that we must look to make this place a fortress.
“If you want to be successful, your home form has to be up there but, of course, we’ve had a couple of away games we want to improve on.”
Preston have seven points on the board under new boss Alex Neil, and Monk admitted: “They’ve made a really good start. Alex is someone I know very well, he’s a very good manager.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game, like they all are. It will be very competitive, so we have to be ready.
“We had a good result on Tuesday (3-0 in the Carabao Cup against Scunthorpe), which was a good response to the disappointment of losing at Nottingham Forest
“We want to take the positives from that into this weekend. With an international break coming up we want a nice performance and a positive result
“That’s what we are focused on.”
Though Lewis Baker, Ashley Fletcher, Grant Leadbitter and Fabio staked claims in midweek, Monk is likely to revert to the bulk of the side beaten 2-1 at Forest last weekend.
Monk, meanwhile, still has a “couple of bits of work” to do ahead of Thursday’s closure of the August transfer window.
“We’ve done the bulk of our work, we’ve been very good with it,” said Monk. “I think we’ve had a successful window.
“We’ve had more outgoings than we’ve had incomings.
“We’ve done that smartly and brought a lot of money in and moved a lot of players out, as well as recruiting new players.
“We’ve got a couple of bits of work we’d like to do, but that’s with the club and there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes.”
Boro have been linked with Brentford playmaker Jota, who caught the eye last season, scoring 12 goals and providing five assists. Boro have reportedly made two bids for the Spaniard.
Monk was giving little away, saying: “There are a couple of positions where we’d like to try to strengthen the squad.
“But it’s in the club’s hands and things are being worked on.”