Leadbitter convinced Boro have resolve to stay on top

THE only safe thing to assume in the frenzied battle for automatic promotion is that there will be several twists and turns between now and early May.

Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter, top, duels with Birmingham's Andrew Shinnie (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).

Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter is sage enough to know this and is also certain that Boro, leading the way in the Championship by a point, with just four points separating the top five, have the resolve to handle the situation.

The Teessiders will certainly need to display that this lunch-time in their third match in seven days, with Tomas Mejias to stand in for regular No 1 Dimi Konstantopoulos, dismissed in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham, which took them back to the summit.

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A late error from former Real Madrid goalkeeper Mejias gifted the game to Leeds in early August, and United boast a proud record at the Riverside Stadium where they have lost just once in 12 visits.

Despite playing the entire second half at St Andrews with a numerical disadvantage in midweek, Boro hit back to claim a precious point with a second-half leveller from top-scorer Patrick Bamford.

Leadbitter believes head coach Aitor Karanka’s side showed their character in the process.

He said: “We know there’ll be plenty of twists and turns, but I think we’ve shown we can cope with that.

“If people were wondering whether we could cope when the pressure got turned up, I think we answered that a bit at Birmingham.

“We were determined to fight to get to the top of the Championship, and I think you could see the spirit and character, as well as some decent football in the second half.

“We’re going to need all those things in the next 15 games, and I’m sure everybody will be trying harder against us now because we’re there to be shot at.”