THE concept of downing tools is not one that Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis would embrace.
Pulis may have one eye on the end-of-season play-offs after Boro clinched a top-six spot last weekend, but his managerial ethos precludes any notion of taking it easy ahead of two huge play-off battles on the horizon.
While Boro’s season will be extended, whatever happens at Portman Road tomorrow, there is still a live issue at stake.
There is still a chance that the fifth-placed Teesside club could drop to sixth – meaning a semi-final tie with Fulham or Cardiff rather than Aston Villa – but that will only be on the cards if they lose at Ipswich and Derby record a three-goal swing.
It is something to bear in mind with the fact that a meeting with the Cottagers or Bluebirds would be staged next Friday night, as opposed to a Saturday tea-time meeting with Villa, being another consideration.
As to whether he will field a first-choice side today, Boro’s boss is a touch circumspect.
Pulis, who steered Stoke City to promotion to the top flight in 2008, said: “We have a few knocks and niggles, but I think everyone will be fit for the game. It is whether one or two will need a rest. It is an important game and about keeping the momentum going as much as anything else.
“It is important the players approach it in the right manner. We have a responsibility to the supporters who will be down there.
“We will get this game out of the way then we will know who we will have, then prepare for five days before the next one.
“Generally this week it is about who is ready and then we will pick a team, hopefully go and play well.
“We have to make sure everything is on this game then after that we will focus on a good performance in those two (play-off semi-final) games.”