'Chris Wilder will get the Middlesbrough players fired up': What Sunderland can expect against Boro

Sunderland are preparing for Monday’s Championship fixture at Middlesbrough – but what can they expect from Chris Wilder’s side?

Boro were one of the pre-season promotion favourites but have only taken six points from their first seven league games this season.

Wilder’s side conceded a last-minute winner in a 2-1 defeat at Watford last time out, despite taking the lead courtesy of Rodrigo Muniz’s header at Vicarage Road.

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Boro’s only win of the campaign came against Swansea last weekend when they recorded a 2-1 win at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder

To find out more we caught up Robert Nichols from Middlesbrough fanzine Fly Me To The Moon to ask about Sunderland’s next opponents:

How would you assess Boro's start to the season?

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RN: “It’s been a really disappointing start to the season and deeply frustrating at times. Conceding late goals so many times have cost us so many points and so many places.

“It was a frustrating final day in the transfer market leaving us short in midfield and attack. The players with the shirts have to grasp this now and really prove they are good enough to rocket away from the bottom and fire up the table.

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Who have their key players been this season?

“We have massively missed a key player in Marcus Tavernier - sold on the eve of the season, no question of that.

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"But on a positive note Ryan Giles coming in has given us a threat down the left now and Rodrigo Muniz scoring on his first start at Watford, converting a Giles cross, shows the real potential there.

"Jonny Howson looks as if he is again going to be a key player for us. Matt Clarke made a debut where he looked at home at once. In fact he had more than a touch of Tony Mowbray about him.”

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What's the fans' view on Chris Wilder after nearly a year at the club?

RN: “There is some pressure after results and from our position in the table but it is still so early in the season. We can still realise the potential we saw last campaign.

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"A couple of wins in a row starting with Sunderland will see all belief restored in Wilder being the man to take us forward to challenge for promotion.”

How do you think they'll approach the game against Sunderland?

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RN: “We will try and blot out the injury-time goal at Watford and still try and build on a really good performance against one of the top teams and put ourselves back in the mentality of having won our last home match.

"Wilder will get all the players fired up with home derby passion and the crowd will be right behind them. We will all be so determined and united players, fans and management in getting a victory.”

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What’s your predicted line-up?

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RN: "I think everyone is fit - Steffen in goal , Lenihan, Clarke, McNair in defence, Jones and Giles as the wing backs, Howson, Mowatt and, Crooks in midfield, McGree in the hole and Muniz as the centre forward.”