Middlesbrough v Derby County: Assombalonga only as good as the team around him, says Monk

Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga
Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga
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Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk says he is not surprised by the form of star striker Britt Assombalonga.

The Championship’s second highest goalscorer with 11, Assombalonga’s importance to the team would appear undoubted.

Your home form is the bedrock of your season. Our fans are making it a difficult place to come and are being very vocal.

Garry Monk

After arriving for £15m in the summer from Nottingham Forest – an exhorbitant fee for the second tier – the young Congolese striker’s pace and power has given defenders in the Championship a torrid time this season.

He will be looking to add to his impressive tally against a Derby side who have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 17 visits to the Riverside.

But Monk was keen to keep his hitman’s feet firmly on the ground. “Naturally, strikers and goalscorers will get headlines and Britt is doing well,” he said.

“His contribution to the team has been very good. Him performing is not extraordinary, it is what we expect.

“It’s good that he is scoring goals but also that the team ethic is there, as well.”

Boro boast a near-perfect record against the Rams at the Riverside over recent years, winning nine of the last 10 meetings but there is nothing seperating the teams in the table as sixth hosts seventh.

Both teams will be expecting to push for a play-off place this season and Monk is expecting a difficult game.

“It’s a very tough assignment. They’ve got a high quality squad and a lot of options,” said the Boro boss.

“Each game is a different test. At home it needs to be a stronghold for us and everyone has their role to play.

“Your home form is the bedrock of your season.

“Our fans are making it a difficult place to come and are being very vocal.

“No game at this point of the season is going to define your season.

“It’s an important three points but all you can do at this moment is fight for those points.”

Striker Rudy Gestede returned to training after a serious thigh injury which has kept him out since August as he works to regain match fitness.

There are no fresh injury concerns for Boro, but midfielder Jonny Howson will miss today’s match through suspension.