Injury-hit Middlesbrough FC sweating on the fitness of two major players ahead of Championship trip to Leeds United

MIDDLESBROUGH are sweating on the fitness of key duo Hayden Hackney and Dael Fry ahead of Saturday's Championship trip to face in-form hosts Leeds United at Elland Road.

England under-21 midfielder Hayden Hackney, widely regarded as one of the best young schemers in the second-tier and nominated for the PFA Championship young player of the season award in a breakthrough 2023-23, missed the midweek victory over Preston North End with a groin niggle.

His form is reportedly being monitored by Premier League club Nottingham Forest.

Fry sat out the Riverside fixture with a hamstring issue.

Middlesbrough's England under-21 midfielder Hayden Hackney, who is a fitness doubt for the Championship trip to Leeds United. Picture: Image: Will Matthews/PA Wire.Middlesbrough's England under-21 midfielder Hayden Hackney, who is a fitness doubt for the Championship trip to Leeds United. Picture: Image: Will Matthews/PA Wire.
Middlesbrough's England under-21 midfielder Hayden Hackney, who is a fitness doubt for the Championship trip to Leeds United. Picture: Image: Will Matthews/PA Wire.
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Any potential absence of Fry, in particular, would leave Boro pretty light in terms of their central defensive options, although Matt Clarke came off the bench to make his first appearance in just over a year following a serious back injury.

Darragh Lenihan and Tommy Smith are out with long-term injuries and will miss the rest of the campaign.

On his team news, Boro chief Michael Carrick said: "We’re similar.

"We have another day tomorrow, so we’ll see how Dael and Hayden are. It could go either way."

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Left-back Lukas Engel is among Boro's other injury concerns, having missed the midweek win with a knee problem.

Definitely out for the short trip to West Yorkshire alongside Lenihan and Smith are Lewis O'Brien, Riley McGree and Marcus Forss, while Sam Greenwood is ineligible against his parent club.

Carrick added: "Lukas is similar.

"Again, we’re just hoping. We’re trying to give the boys as long as they can have and we’ll see whether the boys can be involved at the weekend, whether they can start or whether they’ll be missing, we’re still not sure."