Tony Mowbray has warned his Middlesbrough team to prepare for a high-octane display from Leeds United at The Riverside, saying: “They’ll be coming here to win.”
The Boro manager expects Leeds to throw caution to the wind tomorrow as Neil Warnock’s side look to keep alive their diminishing hopes of qualifying for the Championship play-offs.
Leeds sat five points adrift of sixth place after their draw at Hull City on Tuesday night and their visit to Boro, who lie fourth in the table, is a prime opportunity to claw back ground on the division’s leading clubs.
Mowbray said: “They’ll be coming here to win. I don’t think they’re looking over their shoulders at the bottom half of the table so they’ll have a free go at the game and be as positive as possible.
“For them, anything other than a win doesn’t really help their cause.”
Mowbray gave his players two days off following their midweek win over Barnsley, claiming a short rest would leave his squad in the “best physical and mental state” for tomorrow’s clash, and he is hoping to see his injury worries ease before kick-off.
Kevin Thomas has recovered from illness and looks to be in contention, and Mowbray will recall Nicky Bailey if the midfielder comes through training today with no reaction to a back injury.
Julio Arca, Marvin Emnes and Barry Robson have all been carrying minor injuries but Rhys Williams is available after suspension.
Mowbray admitted he was nursing his squad through to the end of the season, saying: “We like to work on game plans and have the team prepared – how we’re going to play and what we are going to do in certain situations.
“We’ve got players whose bodies won’t allow them to train on the back of a tough game for at least a couple of days, by which time it’s too late to do a session on how you will play against certain opposition.
“So we have to do it on magnetic boards and show the team the different ways it might pan out, rather than doing it on grass. That’s the job and every manager is doing it. Some get it right, some get it wrong.”