Both Middlesbrough and Bristol City recorded draws on the opening day of the EFL Championship season, with Marc Bola's second-half strike snatching a late point for Boro against Marco Silva's Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Bola's goal was Middlesbrough's only shot on target and after the game, Boro boss Neil Warnock said:
''Fulham have individuals far better than us, but as a team I think we showed that togetherness and desire that will stand us in good stead for the Championship. So I’m delighted with the result and it's something to build on for sure.''
Bristol City began their EFL Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Blackpool at Ashton Gate, but the Robins are bound to be disheartened by the result as Chris Martin's first-half strike was cancelled out by a 93rd minute equaliser, scored by Blackpool debutant Shayne Lavery.
''I'm like everybody else, on the emotional side of it, it's difficult to take to concede a goal that gives our opponents a point with the last kick of the game, effectively.
"For the most part, there were a couple of situations in the second half where they looked more dangerous but in terms of the overall picture of the game, we were pretty dominant and deserved the win.''
Neil Warnock has been hit with several fitness concerns heading into Saturday, with only eight players taking part in training on Thursday. Chuba Akpom remains out of action, meaning Martin Payero may be introduced to make his first league start on Saturday. Marcus Tavernier is also available for selection as the winger has recently returned to full fitness after a hamstring injury.
As for the visitors, Nigel Pearson may name an unchanged starting eleven, with Kasey Palmer a possible change if Pearson opts for more experience in the forward areas. Saikou Janneh may also be rewarded with a start, after scoring a brace against Forest Green Rovers in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
Middlesbrough: Lumley, Dijksteel, Hall, Fry, Bola, Morsy, Howson, McNair, Crooks, Ikpeazu, Watmore.
Bristol City: Bentley, Vyner, Baker, Atkinson, Dasilva, James, King, Janneh, Palmer, Weimann, Martin.
Ones to watch
After impressing in the EFL Championship with Rotherham United last season, Matt Crooks made the move to Teesside in the summer for an undisclosed fee. Crooks' physical ability and stamina certainly fits the bill for a Neil Warnock attacker, prepared for a battle and ready to get stuck in. The signing of Crooks certainly looks like a shrewd piece of business and a player to keep an eye on going into Saturday's game.
The experienced midfielder was signed by his former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson in the summer on a free transfer, adding a wealth of experience to a Bristol City side that were in freefall towards the back end of the 2020/21 season. Andy King started the last league game and will look to be competitive in what's set to be a physical encounter on Saturday.
In the build-up to Saturday's game, Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock said:
“It’s great to have the fans back, I’m looking ever so forward to hearing them. They were great at Fulham and that was just shy of 2,000 and it sounded like 20,000.
“I just want fans to really enjoy themselves and really be vociferous, get behind us and, especially in this difficult period with a lack of options, be our twelfth man tomorrow.”
''We’re making progress. It might not be to everybody’s taste but it’s the way that we are. Trying to get success here is making it sustainable and making progressions which have some substance behind it. I’m not somebody who just reacts to things and I’m not somebody who ploughs on with something if it’s not working. It’s as simple as that.
"The teams that have been put out this week have given almost everybody in the squad an opportunity to show what they’re capable of. Some people have taken their chances, some haven’t, but I’m really happy with the squad is and how’s it progressing.''
How to watch
The game will not be available to stream via iFollow in the UK this Saturday, as live streams for 15:00 BST kick-offs are no longer permitted. Tickets remain available for home and away fans whilst fans outside of the UK can watch via iFollow by purchasing a match pass.