Newly-promoted Middlesbrough entertain Tottenham on Saturday afternoon, with the home side looking to recover from a disappointing defeat to Everton last weekend.
Boro have made an indifferent start to life back in the Premier League, picking up five points from as many games, but will be concerned that they failed to register a shot on target last time out – their goal eventually being credited to unfortunate Toffees keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Sounds promising on the Rhodes and Stuani front > https://t.co/cdiiKEcZJA
— Gazette Boro (@GazetteBoro) September 22, 2016
However, Aitor Karanka was in a bullish mood in his pre-match press conference, insisting that his side have competed well in their opening fixtures after making the leap up from the Championship.
The Spaniard also confirmed that Christian Stuani, Jordan Rhodes and Adam Clayton have all recovered from knocks and are available for the weekend clash.
This will be a big boost for Karanka, who is still without Fabio Da Silva, James Husband and captain Grant Leadbitter.
Meanwhile, the manager was coy on whether new signings Bernardo Espinosa or Calum Chambers would start at centre-back alongside the impressive Ben Gibson, who was rumoured to be on England manager Sam Allardyce’s radar this week.
As for Tottenham, last week’s victory over Sunderland propelled them into third place and they followed that up by dismantling third-tier Gillingham in Wednesday’s League Cup tie.
Harry Kane faces around two months on the sidelines with ankle ligament damage, so there may be a chance for Dutch forward Vincent Janssen to stake a claim for a starting position in his stead.
Next round! And happy with my first goal for the spurs ? pic.twitter.com/Y3cdKMgn5m
— Vincent Janssen (@vincentjanssen) September 22, 2016
The former-AZ Alkmaar striker netted his first Spurs goal from the penalty spot in midweek, while fellow scorers Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela could also be in line for Premier League recalls.
Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier will all face late tests as they bid to prove their fitness to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 23, 2016
Tottenham are unbeaten in the league so far this season, and it is difficult to imagine that run ending against a Middlesbrough side still finding their feet at this level.
Possible Middlesbrough starting XI (4-4-2): Valdes; Barragan, Espinosa, Gibson, Friend; Ramirez, Forshaw, Nsue, Downing; Stuani, Negredo
Possible Tottenham starting XI (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele; Son, Eriksen, Lamela; Janssen