Speaking in the build-up to his team’s fourth-round FA Cup fixture against Newport County, Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis revealed that several of his players missed training this week as the camp was hit with flu.
“We’re waiting to see who comes in, and who doesn’t have the flu,” he said.
“There’s been four or five who’ve come down with it. A couple we haven’t seen for two or three days.”
“We’ll have a roll call, see who’s available and not available. We can forget the squad, we have to see who’s up and running and ready to go.”
Middlesbrough may not include new signing John Obi Mikel in their squad to face Newport on Saturday, considering the fact that the Nigerian international hasn’t played a competitive game since featuring in the 2018 World Cup.
“He hasn’t played since November so we have to get him up to speed,” Pulis said.
“We’ll have a good look at him in training and see where he is.”
As far as Newport are concerned, they will be coming into this fixture with their hopes high considering after knocking Leicester out of the competition in the last round.
Still, their own squad won’t be close to full strength, with Andrew Crofts and Matty Dolan both missing as the duo haven’t been able to shake off their hamstring injuries.
“We know it’s going to be really tough,” said the Newport manager. “We haven’t got the advantage of the home crowd and home comforts, but it’s a football pitch with two goals and 22 players.”
Middlesbrough and Newport manager share a hometown
Not many fans might be aware of the fact that Michael Flynn and Tony Pulis were both raised in Pillgwenlly, a remote town in South Wales.
Apart from sharing a hometown, both Flynn and Pulis went on to play for Newport at various stages of their career.
"There were a couple of text messages exchanged straight after the draw," says the Newport manager, scrolling through his phone to find them. "I sent him: 'See you soon'. He replied: 'We will spoil you, Flynny, don’t you worry about that.'"