Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic: Lack of goals inhibiting Boro’s true potential

Middlesbrough's Danny Batth impressed in the goalless draw at Stoke City.
Middlesbrough's Danny Batth impressed in the goalless draw at Stoke City.
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Tony Pulis has issued a challenge to his misfiring forwards ahead of Middlesbrough’s home fixture with Wigan Athletic today.

Last weekend’s goalless draw at Stoke City saw Boro drop to fourth in the Championship table, and their tally of 17 goals in 16 games is the sixth-lowest in the division.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

But Pulis is confident that if his side can improve their finishing, they can stake their credentials as genuine promotion favourites.

“We’ve had a lot of opportunities to create chances,” said Boro boss Pulis.

“And when we have they’ve been good chances.

“That’s what we’ve really got to shine up on, taking those opportunities and chances.

You’ve got to go into every game with the right attitude and approach. We’ll respect Wigan, they’ve had some great results this season.

Tony Pulis

“If we can do that we’ll step up a level.”

Ryan Shotton confirmed on Twitter this week that he is suffering from a partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligament, so he will not feature.

But Danny Batth’s fine performance against the Potters has given Pulis a welcome selection headache at the back with Daniel Ayala returning from suspension.

Gary Roberts and Nick Powell are doubtful for the Latics, while Egyptian international Sam Morsy is suspended.

Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, and Will Grigg are all unavailable with long-term injuries.

Wigan ran table-topping Leeds United close last weekend, taking the lead early on through youngster Reece James, and Pulis is under no illusions that his side are in for an easy afternoon.

“You’ve got to go into every game with the right attitude and approach,” he said.

“We’ll respect Wigan, they’ve had some great results this season.

“They’re competitive and well organised.”

The game will be Wigan’s first since owner Dave Whelan sold the club to Hong Kong company International Entertainment Corporation during the week.

The £22m sale, confirmed on Wednesday, brought an end to the Whelan family’s 23-year spell of ownership.