Middlesbrough look to make a winning start to life under Chris Wilder as they welcome Millwall to Riverside Stadium in Saturday’s standout Championship clash.
Victory could lift Boro as high as eighth depending on results elsewhere, whereas Millwall can climb as high as fifth as long as Stoke, QPR, Blackburn and Huddersfield all fail to win their matches.
Neil Taylor could make his first start for Middlesbrough after signing for the club on Thursday on a free transfer.
Uche Ikpeazu (leg), Dael Fry (groin), Marcus Browne (knee) and Marc Bola (muscle) remain absent.
Millwall could welcome Daniel Ballard back after he withdrew from Northern Ireland’s latest squad with a concussion and minor knee injury.
George Evans (calf/hand) is also in contention if he is declared match fit by Millwall’s medical team.
- Middlesbrough have lost just one of their last seven matches against Millwall (W3, D3, L1).
- Millwall are winless in their last five visits to Boro’s Riverside Stadium (D2, L3).
- Boro have picked up more bookings in the first 17 rounds of this season than any other team, with 42 yellow cards and two red cards dished out of which seven bookings were for Lee Peltier.
- One of Millwall’s 17 league goals this season have been scored from the penalty spot.
- Boro won their only previous home game this season refereed by Oliver Langford – having beat Bristol City 2-1 in August.
With Neil Warnock out and Chris Wilder now in charge, Middlesbrough will be an interesting team to watch here as they adapt to Wilder’s 3-5-2 system, which involves overlapping moves across both flanks yet I just can’t see this Boro team having the ability to settle into that style quickly.
This game though will be interesting beyond just the tactics element because Boro have disciplinary issues, which could play into Millwall’s hands if they can get on the front foot with aggressive pace to draw tackles and take their chances on goal.
Millwall though are in decent form with just two defeats in their last 13 matches yet their defensive record isn’t consistent with only four clean sheets, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they concede again here.
A score draw therefore wouldn’t be a surprise but if Boro can the bounce of a new manager and embrace the crowd atmosphere, they should just edge this match if are at their clinical best.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Millwall