Middlesbrough take on Birmingham City hoping to keep up their good run of form and build a push for the playoffs this season.
It looked at one point this season that Neil Warnock might be on the brink of losing his job as a poor run of form meant the pressure started to build.
However, since the international, Boro have won three on the spin and are looking for their fourth against a Birmingham City side who have struggled of late.
Lee Bowyer’s side were winless seven up until their 2-1 win over Swansea City last weekend and even went six games without scoring during that torrid run.
However, it was a much improved display for Birmingham City against Swansea and Bowyer will be hoping for more of the same against Boro later today.
It should be an intriguing clash between two strong sides then – and here are two things to watch out for in this tie.
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Can a makeshift Boro backline keep out Deeney and co?
If anyone has read or listened to any Neil Warnock interview in the last couple of weeks you’ll know that they’re suffering a mini-injury crisis in their defence.
In recent weeks, they’ve been without Dael Fry and Grant Hall, as well as Darnell Fisher being out for the season meaning the likes of Lee Peltier and Sol Bamba have had to step up. The two veterans have been solid in a back three alongside Paddy McNair and have kept three clean sheets in their last three games.
However, they’re coming up against a Troy Deeney who will be buoyed by getting on the scoresheet last weekend who will certainly life difficult for them.
Despite that torrid run of seven games without a win, Birmingham City were still a threat to opposition sides and should’ve definitely picked up more points.
One of the reasons for that poor run of form was the failure to put those chances away. With Bowyer’s men coming up against a Neil Warnock side who will not leave too many gaps to exploit, chances will be few and far between for both sides so being clinical will be essential.
Troy Deeney is absolutely pivotal to that. He will be coming up against a Sol Bamba who has been one of the best performers in the league this month and what he showed last weekend was an ability to create space for himself and composure to put the ball in the back of the net.
Both Deeney and Birmingham City will be hoping to get their season after it stalled last month in what will be an intriguing encounter between the two sides.