Middlesbrough face a tough test as they welcome Derby to Riverside Stadium for a top of table showdown with top spot up for grabs on Saturday Lunchtime.
A win for either side will send them top but a draw will hand those around them a chance to leapfrog them both depending on later results.
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Middlesbrough will be without Ryan Shotton as the full-back faces a few weeks on sidelines with a knee injury.
Paddy McNair will again deputise for the ex Birmingham City player.
Derby are without Craig Bryson (calf) and George Evans (knee) so may remain unchanged from Wednesday’s win over West Bromwich Albion.
Middlesbrough have been inconsistent this month, picking up two wins either side of a home loss to Nottingham Forest before drawing last time out to Rotherham.
At home, Boro have only conceded twice with both goals coming at the hands of Forest earlier this month but have kept a clean sheet in six of their seven home games so far overall.
Derby meanwhile arrive here in high spirits after dispatching two promotion rivals in Sheffield United and West Brom this past week, scoring six and conceding twice.
The Rams however haven’t kept a clean sheet in last six games since a goalless draw with Blackburn in mid September.
- Middlesbrough are unbeaten in six of last seven (W5, D1, L1) meetings with Derby.
- In that time, five of those meetings saw the winning side keep a clean sheet with the two occasions when both club scored coming at Pride Park in August 2015 then April 2018 respectively.
- Middlesbrough are sat ten league positions higher than they were at this stage last season when they placed 12th after 14 games under Gary Monk.
- Derby’s 3-0 win at The Riverside last season was their first in 11 attempts since winning 4-1 here in January 2000.
- Since leaving Boro in January 2017 for Derby, David Nugent has netted 17 goals compared to nine during his year and half on Teesside.
- Tony Pulis has managed 13 matches against Derby but is yet to see any of his sides draw with the Rams, winning seven and losing six.
This should be a tight game here because Boro don’t tend to do comfortable thrashings under Pulis but Derby are riding high on confidence after the past week.
Both teams will score but I feel that Derby will edge this because the momentum is with them at minute and their attack is fierce.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Derby County
Result: Middlesbrough 1-1 Derby County