Middlesbrough v Derby County: Goals must come from all areas says Tony Pulis

WHEN it comes to Middlesbrough's difficulties in front of goal it is very much a problem shared, according to manager Tony Pulis.

Jonny Howson: Still seeking first goal of campaign.
Jonny Howson: Still seeking first goal of campaign.

Second-placed Boro’s defensive statistics stack up as the best in the Championship, but their goalscoring haul of just 16 in 14 games is the worst record in the top nine – with the Teesside club having failed to score in their last three home games.

It is far from ideal given the arrival of an in-form Derby County side who head to the Riverside on the back of wins and a combined six goals against the promotion-chasing duo of West Brom and Sheffield United.

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But Pulis believes that it is not just his striking department who are culpable for the lack of goals, but the team as a whole.

Last season central defenders Daniel Ayala and Aden Flint scored seven and nine goals respectively for their clubs – both have managed just one so far this term.

Another conscious of his own need to chip in is midfielder Jonny Howson, yet to find the net for Boro in 2018-19.

Boro chief Pulis said: “We are averaging 25 crosses a game, which is in the top five in this league. We should be scoring more goals and that is not just the strikers.

“We should be scoring (more) off set-plays and we have not done that as continuously and comfortably as I thought we would.

“Flinty, Dani and George (Friend) and whoever goes in off set-pieces, we are looking for them to score goals.

“I have never been a manager who has said that the strikers must lead the charge. It is the team. I personally do not care who scores as long as the team does.

“(Muhamed) Besic has added a couple of goals and Jonny could have had six or seven goals already, but has not scored yet and he is a regular eight to 10 goals a season at this level. We are hoping there are some in there which he is saving for us.”

Acknowledging his own need to contribute in the scoring stakes, Howson admitted: “It is probably one of my biggest disappointments this season.

“I need to add a few goals and I know that. It is not for the lack of trying.”

Despite Boro’s recent toils in front of goal their record against high-flying rivals at the Riverside should provide one source of comfort with the Blades and West Brom having both been beaten already this season.