Middlesbrough FC v Crystal Palace Preview
The international break ends with Boro back in Premier League action against Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace.
Aitor Karanka will be delighted with his side’s start this season as they have recorded one win and two draws in their opening three league games and, although the league table means nothing at this stage, it’s nice to see Boro 6th.
Palace, on the other hand, have had a difficult start to the campaign with their draw with Bournemouth before the international break being their first point of the season. The Eagles have struggled for goals this season and Pardew will be hoping that new signings Christian Benteke and Loic Remy can fire his side up the table this season.
While Boro will have to key an eye on the striking duo, Aitor Karanka looks like he will have a few selection headaches this weekend.
Captain Grant Leadbitter is still injured, along with Marten de Roon, and he will definitely miss the match. Meanwhile Victor Valdes is still struggling with what Karanka has described as a muscular injury and he may not be fit enough for the game.
Adams Clayton and Forshaw are expected to keep their places in the defensive midfield roles given the absence of Leadbitter and de Roon, with Julien de Sart waiting in the wings.
Valdes’ absence could mean a Premier League debut for Dimi Konstantopoulos as Brad Guzan has been on international duty with the USA this week and may not be back in time for the club’s pre-match preparations.
While on the subject of international duty, Uruguayan duo Cristhian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez have been involved with their country this week and they may also miss out. That could leave Boro short of options in the attacking third.
Both Albert Adomah and Adam Reach left the club on deadline day so the club’s newest recruit, Adama Traore, could make his Boro debut, although he is more likely to start the game on the bench. Viktor Fischer impressed for Denmark on international duty and he looks set to start for the first time in the Premier League.
In defence, Daniel Ayala and Ben Gibson are likely to keep their places and George Friend will return to left-back if he is fully fit. At right-back, Emilio Nsue has had his place called into question by supporters after disappointing displays against West Brom and Sunderland. Antonio Barragan could replace him on the right hand side of defence, or loan signing Calum Chambers could come in to make his debut.
Because of the potential absence of Stuani and Ramirez, Nsue could be pushed into the right-wing role.
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Upfront, Alvaro Negredo is expected to keep his place in the side ahead of Jordan Rhodes and David Nugent.
Predicted Middlesbrough FC line-up: Valdes, Barragan, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw, Nsue, Downing, Fischer, Negredo