Middlesbrough will be without forward Ashley Fletcher for their Championship clash with Cardiff City tomorrow, reports Scott Wilson.

The 25-year-old has only just returned from a spell on the sidelines. He spent several months out with a hamstring injury but returned to action last month, having scored twice in his last three outings for Boro.

But he was forced off in the first-half of the 3-1 defeat to Bristol City last time out and now faces ‘up to three weeks’ out with a muscular injury.

It’s terrible timing for Fletcher and Middlesbrough – the striker was a welcome return for Neil Warnock’s often goal-shy side, and his injury comes in the middle of contract discussions with the striker.

His absence will make the task of overcoming Cardiff City in the Championship tomorrow a whole lot harder for Boro.

There’s a lot riding on this game with Middlesbrough in 9th, only three points behind Cardiff City in 6th. Mick McCarthy remains unbeaten since taking charge last month with his side winning their last six in the league.

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It’s made the game at the Riverside tomorrow an all-important one in the bid for a spot in the top-six this season – a win for Cardiff could see them leapfrog 4th-place Reading, whilst a win for Middlesbrough could see them replace Cardiff in 6th.

McCarthy has performed against the odds at Cardiff. His appointment seemed an underwhelming one but to be his credit, he’s galvanised a rapidly deflating side in Cardiff City, who’ll give Boro a lot of problems tomorrow.