Middlesbrough will be without two key defenders for the crucial clash with Championship promotion rivals Birmingham City, the club has confirmed on their official website.

Boro boss Tony Pulis has confirmed that both Aden Flint and Ryan Shotton will not make the matchday squad.

“It’s a blow because this two have been important for us,” the Middlesbrough manager has stated.

Daniel Ayala will also struggle to make the game as he is suffering from a knock; all three players missed the FA Cup victory over Peterborough United last weekend.

More positively for Boro, centre backs Danny Batth and Dael Fry will come into the squad.

New loan signing from Huddersfield, winger Rajiv van La Parra, is looking to keep his place in the Middlesbrough side after making his debut against Peterborough.

Pulis said that he looks sharper and fitter throughout this week in training, but still needs more time as he has had little game time since October.

There are only four points that separate the two teams, with the North East side on 43 points in fifth place, while the Blues are in eighth on 39 points.

Both teams will target the play-off positions to give them a chance to gain promotion into the Premier League.

Recently Middlesborough have enjoyed a good record against the Midlanders, winning their last three matches against them in the Championship, with Birmingham having failed to score on each occasion.

The Riverside team is also unbeaten in their last four visits to St Andrews, although Birmingham have a strong record at home, losing only one of their last 18 league matches.


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