Injury-hit Boro will still pose a real threat to City
MIDDLESBROUGH may be riding high near the top of the Championship, but manager Tony Mowbray has a few problems ahead of tomorrow's game at the Riverside.
Not only did his team surrender a ten-match unbeaten record when losing 1-0 to promotion rivals Cardiff City last weekend, they also lost two key players to injury.
First-choice left-back George Friend, a regular selection this season, limped off at the Cardiff City Stadium with a hamstring tear that could sideline him for up to six weeks.
And to make matters worse, influential midfielder Faris Haroun sustained a calf injury and was subsequently sent to hospital to undergo a scan to reveal the full extent of the damage. That means Mowbray will be forced to make two changes for the visit of Bristol City and he admitted: "Losing George and Faris is a big blow for us."
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Despite Boro's ongoing financial problems, Mowbray presides over a squad that boasts genuine strength in depth. Local product Adam Reach has performed capably when called upon this season and is expected to replace Friend at left-back, while Richard Smallwood is favourite to fill in for Haroun on the left side of midfield.
Centre-back Andre Amougou needs no introduction to City fans and the big man has forged an effective partnership with Seb Hines at the heart of Boro's back four, keeping former England man Jonathan Woodgate on the bench for much of the season.
Mowbray has excellent options up front with Lucas Jutkiewicz expected to partner Marvin Emnes, leaving five-goal top-scorer Scott McDonald and Ishmael Miller on the bench.