Mowbray’s men hoping to beat bug and bounce back from derby defeat

MIDDLESBROUGH chief Tony Mowbray is sweating on the fitness of a number of players ahead of the encounter with faltering Blackburn Rovers.

A sickness bug afflicted a number of senior players ahead of Saturday’s loss at Leeds, with Ishmael Miller, Andre Bikey and Nicky Bailey failing to travel and Jason Steele and Marvin Emnes playing, despite feeling unwell.

Faris Haroun was also sidelined with a hamstring strain and while Mowbray hopes the disruption will not be as bad ahead of the game with Rovers, he has called on his side to dig deep if it remains the case.

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Without a win in five matches, Rovers arrive on Teesside refreshed after their weekend game with Brighton at Ewood Park was called off.

Mowbray is reading nothing into that and wants his troops to display the character they showed in their last home game with Wolves, when, after limited preparation after their long midweek Capital One Cup exit at Swansea, they hit back with a last-gasp 2-0 victory.

He said: “We managed to find a performance at Leeds despite our problems and if we still have players missing on Boxing Day, we will still find a performance.

“Their game being off is of no concern. Wednesday’s match will stand on its own merits. We will pick a team to try and win the match and give it our best shot.”

Reading nothing into relegated Rovers being 17th in the table, he added: “I see Blackburn, Wolves and Bolton coming on strong because of the players they have got.

“They will be there or thereabouts, if not this season then definitely next season because they have got good players.”

Last time: Middlesbrough 0 Blackburn Rovers 0; Sat, January 31, 2009; Premier League.

Last six games: Middlesbrough LWLWLW; Blackburn Rovers LLDLLW.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorks).