Middlesbrough are set to face Queens Park Rangers at The Riverside on Saturday afternoon, and face yet another defensive crisis.

Last week’s 1-0 win against Blackburn Rovers was impressive from Middlesbrough, given they were missing centre-back duo Aden Flint and Dani Ayala through injury and suspension respectively. Ryan Shotton deputised at centre-back alongside Dael Fry, and the pair weren’t really troubled throughout the 90 minutes.

Now with another game on the horizon, Flint is yet to recover from his injury sustained in the game against Sheffield United, and Ryan Shotton and George Friend could also miss out.

Boro boss Tony Pulis confirmed the bad news in his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.

“We’ve got a couple of problems,” he said.

“There’s Flinty, and George Friend came off so we’re not sure if he’ll be fit tomorrow.

“Shotts is still struggling a bit, so we’ve got to be careful with Ryan and how we handle that situation.”

Ayala’s return from suspension will be a welcome one for Pulis, with the Spaniard expected to start from the off against QPR this weekend. Dael Fry will also keep his place, and Paddy McNair could come in at centre-back if Boro stick to their tried and tested five at the back formation.

However, their attack benefitted a lot more from the 4-4-2 formation used at Ewood Park last Saturday. With a diamond in midfield, Lewis Wing was given licence to roam forwards and linked up well with Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher up front.

Pulis spoke highly of Fletcher in his press conference, saying he was ‘pleased’ with the 23-year old, and the forward could be given another chance to impress against Steve McLaren’s ‘Rangers side.

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Lifelong Boro fan - from the highs of watching Juninho and the Carling Cup victory, to the lows of Gordon Strachan and Lee Dong Gook

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