Birmingham City v Middlesbrough: ‘These are the money games’ says Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder says the Championship is a “tired” division as Middlesbrough play their last league game before the international break.

Boro are at Birmingham City tonight looking for their first away win of 2022.

The manager was tight-lipped about who he will take to St Andrew’s, saying: “I’m not going to show my cards because nobody shows me theirs but we’re hopeful there’ll be additions from Saturday.”

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He does admit, though, things need freshening up after one win (plus a penalty shoot-out victory over Tottenham Hotspur) in the last five games.

Boro manager Chris Wilder. Picture: Tony Johnson

With their FA Cup run, tonight will be Boro’s 15th match of a year which is 72 days old, but Wilder does not want to hear excuses because every other club is similar.

“It’s a tired league,” he commented.

“There’s no excuses because everybody’s in the same boat. Everybody is looking towards the international break but unfortunately not all our boys will be able to rest. This is part and parcel of having some good players.

“It’s important we get something at Birmingham, we take that opportunity to breathe and then there’s nine games to go and we’re into the last little bit of the season where it’s full tilt.

“The ones that will use it as an excuse will use it as an excuse but others will pile through it and show a really strong mentality, a state of mind to get through the games and be strong physically and mentally.

“These are the money games now. We’ve set it up great to be in the mix and if we don’t get a result we’ll still be in the mix but it will benefit us in our quest to get in the top six.”

Boro have been formidable on Teesside but have picked up just two points from 18 elsewhere since winning at Blackpool in December. The second was at Millwall on Saturday.

“Hopefully that will give us belief and confidence because we’ve got some away games between now and the end of the season and we can’t rely on our terrific home form to carry us through,” said Wilder.

Boro have an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Chelsea on Saturday before a two-week break from club football.

Last six games: Birmingham City DWLLDW; Middlesbrough DLWDLW

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire)

Last time: Birmingham City 1 Middlesbrough 4, December 19, 2020, Championship.