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Middlesbrough preview

Roberto Mancini has stressed the importance of this game and to avoid looking ahead to the Carling Cup semi-final next week, and if we put some form together over the second half of the season in our pursuit of a top four spot, we could well have some success in this years FA Cup tournament as a result.

Mancini has stated he will field a full strength line-up, and this may well largely be down to a lack of alternatives given our current injury problems. The bench should have a youthful feel to it, and one or two will probably see some significant action.

Micah Richards will likely move across to the centre to partner Vincent Kompany (for the first time I believe) with Javi Garrido getting the start at left back. I doubt Craig Bellamy gets risked though given the importance of Wednesday night and concerns over his knee. Although an away game, Robinho may get a further opportunity up front alongside Tevez if Mancini opts for a 4-4-2 formation.

Middlesbrough have particularly struggled at home this season since their relegation and have yet to really fire under Gordon Strachan, losing four of their past five games. Yet our record away to Middlesbrough is not a good one and recent form is that the home side triumphs.

Mancini has quickly built some momentum during the short time he has been in charge though, and the side have looked purposeful in the two games so far. Given that a replay is something we could really do without, I think we come away with the victory - although there will likely not be much in it.