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Middlesbrough preview

This really is a game that I feel should be there for the taking.

Buoyed by a more positive display on Wednesday against Chelsea, we go up against a side who will undoubtedly have minds on Monday's replay against United.

Team wise, I don't expect a great deal of change for ourselves, but manager Gareth Southgate could field a less than full-strength side - saying:

"Both the league and the FA Cup are important to us and I
still feel we have a lot to play for in both competitions.
"I have lots of
decisions to make because these are two very big games and we want to win both.
"We need to go into both games with as much energy and strength as possible, and
I have to take each match on its individual merits."

I believe that key players will be missing so the opportunity to get a vital three points is definitely there and we need to take the spirit from Wednesday into the game. A key undoubtedly is the first goal as at present there is a (justifiable) sense that if we fall behind we are unlikely to get anything from the game due to our scoring drought.

For the opening quarter of both the Chelsea and Blackburn games, we have looked the equal of our opponents but then conceded and never looked like grabbing an equaliser. It will be an interesting situation then if we can get our noses in front as it will almost be an alien way of playing to us.

I do feel that we will get something from the game - if only because Pearce has managed to buy himself time throughout the season when things have looked precarious.

Three points may be a stretch too far for us though.

Middlesbrough 1 City 1