Blackburn Rovers v Middlesbrough: Boro will give it their ‘best shot’ at Ewood, says Tony Pulis

Middlesbrough’s defensive robustness has pretty much been taken for granted almost throughout the season.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

That a few chinks in their armour have arrived lately by virtue of some punishing set-piece concessions will be a touch disconcerting for Tony Pulis, although Boro’s manager is likely to be more conscious of the numbers game.

Pulis finds himself without the services of his two leading centre-backs tomorrow, with Daniel Ayala suspended after his dismissal for two yellow cards at Sheffield United on Wednesday.

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This significantly compounded matters for Pulis, who saw Aden Flint forced off with a hamstring issue in the first half at Bramall Lane.

Following former loanee Danny Batth’s recall by parent club Wolves last month, who promptly sold him to Stoke City for £3.5m – with Boro deciding not to enter in the bidding – the Teesside club find themselves low on options and facing a mini defensive crisis for the trip to Rovers, managed by former manager and club legend Tony Mowbray.

As is his wont, Pulis – whose side’s goal against record remains the best in the Championship – is stoically getting on with matters and controlling what he can.

Pulis, whose side remain in the play-off positions solely on goal difference, said: “It is going to be difficult on Sunday. We cannot hide away from the fact that we will be missing a lot of influential players. But we have got to go there and give it our best shot. We have got what we have got and must get on with it.

“The backline was weakened in the window and now we have lost two others. Not many teams can get away with losing three centre-halves.

“The important thing is that whoever goes out can give it their best.”

Despite seeing his side take one point from their last two matches, and with their hold on the play-off positions looking precarious, Pulis believes that his side remain firmly in the promotion mix and is not discounting anything, including reaching the top two.

He added: “There is a quarter of the season to go; who knows? There were some funny results in midweek.

“We are in a good position and close to the action.

“We could easily have come out with more points from Sheffield United, West Brom and Leeds United.”