Middlesbrough have made a good start to life under Garry Monk back in the Sky Bet Championship, with the Teessiders currently sitting seventh – narrowly outside the play-offs.
Following an entertaining 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, attention will now turn to the Carabao Cup, with Boro facing Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.
Boro have so far beaten Scunthorpe United in the competition this season.
Monk fielded a much-changed side to face Scunthorpe, and with the intensity of the Championship beginning to pick up, we at FLW are expecting more changes against Villa – but still a strong looking Boro side for the Carabao Cup clash.
Dimi Konstantopoulos should come back into the side in goal, replacing Darren Randolph as the last line of defence in Monk’s favoured 4-4-1-1 formation.
Daniel Ayala and Dael Fry should be Monk’s centre-back pairing, with Ben Gibson rested, whilst we believe Fabio Da Silva should switch to right-back and George Friend should come in on the opposite side of defence.
Jonny Howson should partner Grant Leadbitter, who has worked his way back into first team contention, in central midfield.
We believe that Stewart Downing must be handed another opportunity to rediscover his best on the left of midfield, whilst Adama Traore’s suspension and Marvin Johnson’s unavailability hand Monk a selection headache on the right.
Patrick Bamford is our pick on the right side of midfield, whilst Lewis Baker plays in an advanced midfield role behind £900k-rated Ashley Fletcher, who should be given an opportunity to impress in his favoured position, with Monk handing Britt Assombalonga a well-earned rest.
Middlesbrough fans… What do you make of this starting XI? Let us know your thoughts!