Middlesbrough are to face Derby County on Saturday afternoon, in what is looking like one of the most important games of the season so far for both sides.

However, Middlesbrough will have to face Frank Lampard’s side without one of their star performers this season, Ryan Shotton. Boro boss Tony Pulis confirmed the news in his pre-match press conference on Thursday morning, stating that the defender has a knee injury, and could miss weeks of action on the sidelines.

The right-back has been a revelation so far under Tony Pulis, and has been utilised extremely well in both a back-four and a back-five.

“Ryan won’t be fit for a couple of weeks,” Pulis said. “He knocked his knee and we have to see how that settles down before we can assess it.”

Although Shotton will miss the game against his former club on Saturday, he could return to face another former club in Stoke City the following weekend says Pulis.

“He’ll definitely miss out on Saturday – he might have an outside chance against Stoke City but the main thing is that we get it right.”

Paddy McNair deputised on Tuesday evening against Rotherham for the injured Shotton, and was one of the better performers in the 0-0 draw at the Riverside. McNair will seemingly keep his place at right-back, with the Middlesbrough manager praising the Northern Irishman in his presser this morning.

“I thought Paddy did some good things the other day. When you consider he hasn’t really been involved in the team for quite a bit of time, for him to come in was great. I thought he did some really good things, and I’m looking forward to him kicking on.”