Middlesbrough are set to be without six defenders due to injury and suspension this weekend, after Marc Bola was ruled out.
Middlesbrough will be missing Anfernee Dijksteel, Darnell Fisher, Dael Fry, Grant Hall, and Marc Bola through injury, whereas Lee Peltier is suspended after picking up five yellow cards.
This means Sol Bamba is the club’s only fit defender for their clash with Peterborough United this weekend.
Bamba is 36-years-old, and was brought in to add a wealth of experience, but not to play two games a week as he is going to be asked to do over the next few games, if not longer term.
What are Middlesbrough’s options?
Jonny Howson and Paddy McNair have both played in defence for Middlesbrough in the past and will likely drop in this weekend.
There also could be a place for youngster Williams Kokolo, who was an unused substitute in the club’s last outing at Hull City. The 21-year-old is a regular for the academy and could deputise in Bola’s absence at left-back.
Equally, Marcus Tavernier and Isaiah Jones have been utilised at left wing-back this season when needed and could play left-back in a back four if necessary.
What did manager Neil Warnock have to say?
In an interview with Teesside Live, the Boro boss was in disbelief at how ‘decimated’ his squad is at the moment, but Warnock remained optimistic regardless.
“Defensively we’re decimated,” he said.
“I’ve never known anything like this in all of my years of management. Certainly, not knowing what my team is going to be on a Thursday night is unheard of.
“I was watching Forest Gump last night. I thought to myself that’s like my team that. ‘Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get’.”
Middlesbrough allowing Djed Spence, Hayden Coulson, Jack Robinson, Marvin Johnson, and Nathan Wood all to leave in the summer looks to be a huge mistake. Spence, Coulson, Robinson and Wood are out on loan, whereas Johnson was released.
Although this sort of injury crisis can’t be predicted, players like Bamba and Peltier can’t be expected to play more than a game a week anyway, so one or two injuries amplifies this massively.
Middlesbrough will likely struggle against Peterborough with a makeshift defence, but the decision to let those five leave will be on Warnock’s mind no doubt.