Middlesbrough defender Tomas Kalas believes they have to beat Preston on Saturday, so that they don’t ‘destroy everything’.
Boro have won their last three games, since Aitor Karanka returned the dug-out – after being on the brink of leaving the club, following a fall out with Stewart Downing – and are a point off the Championship summit.
But Kalas believes their weekend fixture against Preston – whose two victories in their last six matches have come away from home – could decide whether they are to gain automatic promotion.
“When we play at home we know we’ve got the advantage against the other teams we are playing,” Kalas told BBC Tees.
“For three home games we have started pretty well but we can destroy everything if we lose the next game.”
Middlesbrough lost the Championship play-off final to Norwich City last season, and Karanka’s men are keen to avoid Wembley, if they can.
It will also be the first season the new Premier League TV deal will come into effect – which will ultimately increase the financial strength of all top flight teams – so Boro will look to avoid the lottery of the play-offs.
And the 22-year-old is hoping that Boro’s defenders can keep the pressure on him, to ensure he maintains his own high standards, and finish the job.
“Sometimes it’s better when I am under pressure and challenging myself to keep my position in the first XI – that’s what all players need,” Kalas added.
“I was struggling on the bench when we had gone nine games without conceding. Obviously I was happy for the team but for myself it wasn’t the best. Now I am trying to keep everyone out of my position.”