AHEAD of the fourth match of a hectic 11 day-spell at the start of the new season it will surprise few that Middlesbrough are likely to adopt a pragmatic approach to team selection tonight.
A host of senior players are in line for a breather after their exertions at the start of 2018-19 with a third home match in a week likely to see a much-changed Boro line-up stride out at a quiet Riverside Stadium.
But the night could prove to be a memorable one for some of those involved.
Manager Tony Pulis could hand a chance to several young players with the tantalising prospect of involvement for highly-rated young defender Nathan Wood at some point.
Wood, the son of former Boro player Dean Gordon, showed his promise in a breakthrough pre-season that saw him accompany the first-team squad to a training camp in Germany and feature in several first-team friendlies.
The teenager could be involved and, should he be handed a debut, history would beckon with Wood becoming the youngest player to play a competitive game for Boro at the age of 16 years and 75 days if he gets the nod.
Another pushing for involvement is winger Harry Chapman, eyeing a debut for Boro after loan spells at Blackburn, Sheffield United and Barnsley.
The likes of Ashley Fletcher, Marcus Tavernier and Paddy McNair could also feature with the latter in line for a full debut.
Tonight’s opponents have positive memories of their last trip to the Riverside after securing a shock 1-0 League Cup triumph in 2006-07 – a season when Boro were in the Premier League.
The game sees two managers at the opposite ends of the spectrum pit their wits against each other with Notts’ manager Kevin Nolan, 36, starting his second full season in the dug-out, lining up against a veteran in Pulis.
Nolan said: “I am just looking forward to picking his brains after for the little things that will help me as a manager.
“I am looking forward to going up against him and hope to give a good account of myself as well as ourselves.”
Last six games: Middlesbrough DLDDWW Notts County LDDLDL.
Referee: A Backhouse (Cumbria).
Last time: Middlesbrough 0 Notts County 1; September 20, 2006; League Cup.