Middlesbrough will be looking to bounce back from their second defeat of the campaign to close the gap between themselves and the play-offs as they prepare to face the EFL Championship’s basement side Derby County.
Boro fell to a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City on Saturday, which was their first league loss at home, after Teemu Pukki’s 72nd-minute penalty made Middlesbrough rue their penalty mishap early into the second period.
Neil Warnock’s side sit in 11th after Tuesday night’s fixtures, four points away from the playoff positions which with a win tonight would place them in seventh.
On the other hand, the Rams sit at the foot of the table after a torrid campaign which has led to the sacking of Phillip Cocu after just one win from 12 games.
Middlesbrough will be without Ashley Fletcher, Marcus Browne and Sam Morsy, who all miss the fixture against Derby due to injury.
It is also expected that Paddy McNair will be treated carefully after playing three games in seven days on international duty with Northern Ireland before playing on Saturday.
New signing Duncan Watmore could also feature in the squad to face the Rams.
Derby winger Kamil Jozwiak returned to training on Monday after missing Saturday’s loss to Bristol City. He will be vying for a place in the 20-man squad, as well as Colin Kazim-Richards and Mike te Wierik, who both also missed the weekend’s fixture.
Jordan Ibe will miss this contest through illness, and it is expected that Krystian Bielik will continue to work on his return to the first team by featuring for the Under-23 side after recovering from a long-term knee injury.
Bettinelli; McNair, Fry, Dijksteel; Howson; Saville, Bola, Tavernier, Spence; Coulson, Assombalonga.
Derby County (4-2-3-1):
Marshall; Wisdom, Davies, Clarke, Forsyth; Bird, Shinnie; Waghorn, Rooney, Holmes; Hector-Ingram.
Boro went ten games unbeaten between their opening defeat to Watford FC and their loss to the Canaries, amassing six draws and four wins across that period.
In their last five games, Middlesbrough have picked up back-to-back victories against Coventry and Nottingham Forest before registering two successive goalless draws against Blackburn Rovers and Brentford – then came the aforementioned loss to Norwich.
Middlesbrough have conceded the least amount of goals this season with just six goals leaked in 12 games.
Derby are on a dreadful run of form, losing five and drawing three of their last eight games since a 1-0 win over Norwich at the start of October.
The Rams have also conceded 17 goals in 12 games and have failed to find the net more than once in a game all season, netting just five goals, which makes them the lowest scorers in the Championship.
Ones to watch
Britt Assombalonga may only have one goal from eight games so far this season, however, the forward has undoubted attacking prowess at this level.
The forward takes 1.8 shots per game for Middlesbrough and if Warnock’s side are to keep tabs with the top six, the 27-year-old’s contribution needs to improve to the standards that have given him a prolific nametag.
His best season for Boro came in his maiden season where he scored 15 goals in 34 games for the club. He has also hit double figures in five of his last six Championship campaigns.
Looking at the form books coming into this game, Scottish hero David Marshall could be vital if Derby are to come out of this game with anything. His experience is vital and even at 35, the shot-shopper is still one of the league’s best.
Middlesbrough don’t score many, meaning Marshall’s importance will be to focus and be ready to be forced into a save and ensure that Boro don’t find a way through. Marshall makes an average of 2.8 saves per game.
Last time they met
Both sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw back in January 2020.
A stunning strike from Lewis Wing put the hosts ahead on 16 minutes before Jason Knight levelled the game early into the second half.
McNair put Boro back into the lead from the spot, however, Duane Holmes rescued a point for the Rams in stoppage time.
What the managers have said
Manager Warnock is looking for a positive response to Saturday’s defeat.
“It was disappointing on Saturday because it was a game we didn’t deserve to lose,” said Warnock, talking to the Boro website.
“I’m greedy and I look back and we could have won every game we’ve played in this season. We’ll keep plugging away. We’re not far away.
“You have to focus on what you think is best and look for the good things. You don’t always start a good run with a win, you might start with a couple of draws.
“When you lose or a run comes to an end, you’ve just got to get back on the road and start picking up points.
“Forget where Derby are in the league, they have a good squad. And when they lost at Bristol City on Saturday, they had 63% possession.
“They’re all difficult games whether it’s against a new manager or whether they are at the top or bottom of the league. As a manager, I have to come up with solutions.”
Interim manager and player-coach Wayne Rooney believes that it is a big week for Derby.
“It is great for us to have a game on Wednesday,” said Rooney, speaking to the Derby website.
“The players have prepared well in training and the players who didn’t start the game on Saturday did a bit extra on Monday and they have been fantastic with the effort they put in.
“That is going to be key for us as well; the lads who don’t start the previous game have to make sure they are ready to come in.
“With three games coming up this week, of course, it is an important time.
“But the next step is Wednesday. Then it will be the same for Wycombe on Saturday and then Coventry next Tuesday as well, so it is a big week. We have to focus solely on Middlesbrough on Wednesday night first.”
Where to watch
The only way to view this clash live on Wednesday 25 November is by purchasing an 'iFollow' match pass on either of the club’s website.