Middlesbrough are now just five points off the play-off places and a top six finish is not insurmountable as Neil Warnock prepares to take his team to Millwall tomorrow.
With Reading slipping up against Birmingham this week, it has given the chasing pack – including the Teessiders – something to play for, and Boro kept the pressure on by defeating Preston North End 2-0 at the Riverside on Tuesday.
Players are returning back to fitness as well and both Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher came off the bench against North End after injury issues, with the former getting on the scoresheet.
But one player who hobbled off in the second half is Paddy McNair and Warnock will be sweating on whether he can call on him at the weekend.
The £5 million signing from Sunderland in 2018 has mainly played at centre-back this season but he was drafted into the midfield for the win over PNE, but a problem with his kneecap forced him off not long after Boro went 2-0 up.
He was called up for Northern Ireland’s upcoming international games though so there’s an expectation that the injury isn’t too bad, but Warnock isn’t sure on his status for their trip to the capital.
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“He’s hoping to do some training today,” Warnock said of McNair, per Boro’s official website.
“We think he’ll be OK for the international games.
“They’re important games for the Northern Irish so if he’s able to he’ll want to play.”
McNair would be a big miss for the trip to The Den, but it’s important not to rush him back if he isn’t 100%.
Warnock would probably not want McNair to risk himself during the international break, but he clearly loves playing for his country and it looks like Warnock won’t deny him of that.
Personally I’d be surprised if McNair was selected tomorrow, and I can easily see George Saville slotting back into the midfield three alongside Sam Morsy and Jonny Howson.