MK Dons v Middlesbrough: Rhodes ready to start as Boro aim for top to ease pressure

AITOR KARANKA insists Middlesbrough are not feeling the pressure despite taking just a solitary point from their last three games.

Jordan Rhodes set to make first start for Boro

Boro can return to the top of the table tonight if they avoid defeat at struggling Milton Keynes Dons.

The trip to stadium:mk represents the club’s game in hand on leaders Hull City and Brighton & Hove Albion, while Karanka’s men also boast two games in hand on top-six rivals Burnley, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday.

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Nevertheless, after defeats to Bristol City and Nottingham Forest in their last three outings, Karanka remains positive.

“We are in a good position with two games in hand so I don’t think there is pressure,” he added. “I am expecting a good reaction. They are fighting to stay in the league and it was hard when we played them at home.

“But we have to go there trying to recover our confidence on the pitch and consistency. I have always said that you can’t forget the other teams. Brighton and Burnley are winning games so it will be tough until the end. But we have done well right up until now.”

Jordan Rhodes is expected to start after being on the bench for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers, while fellow new boy Gaston Ramirez is also pushing to be involved.

“The players who came here in January know they have to work to get into the team,” said Karanka.

Daniel Ayala is missing with an ankle injury sustained against Rovers, while Boro defender James Husband has extended his loan stay at Huddersfield Town until April 9.

Last six games: MK Dons LWWLLD, Middlesbrough WLWLLD.

Referee: A Davies (Hampshire).

Last time: Never met.