'Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic: Match Preview'
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis faces the dilemma of whether or not to include the returning Daniel Ayala in his starting lineup.
Middlesbrough defender Daniel Ayala is available for selection having served his one-match ban during Boro's 0-0 draw at Stoke last weekend. The defender was suspended after accumulating five bookings this season.
However, while his return is a welcome boost to Middlesbrough – who have kept 9 clean sheets in 15 matches with Ayala in the starting XI – it also poses a selection dilemma for manager Tony Pulis.
In the absence of Ayala, Pulis decided to give loan signing Danny Batth the chance to impress, and impressed he did during his team’s 0-0 stalemate last weekend.
Therefore, with youngster Dael Fry also vying for a place in the central defence, Tony Pulis has a decision to make on the selection of his team’s defensive pairing against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Midfielder Sam McQueen – who damaged his cruciate ligament during the midweek Carabao Cup win against Crystal Palace – faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Meanwhile, while full-back Ryan-Shotton has started light training, however this game may come too soon for him.
Wigan Team News
In comparison to Boro, Wigan will be without more key players at the weekend. Midfielder Sam Morsy, who accumulated his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend against Leeds, is suspended for this game.
Former Manchester United midfielder Nick Powell continues to be assessed after suffering a leg injury against Leeds, whereas Northern Ireland striker Will Grigg is still fighting his way back from a hamstring injury.
One player who could be available for selection is midfielder Gary Roberts, as the midfielder is poised to make his comeback after suffering a hamstring strain at Sheffield last month.
It is more than 11 years since Middlesbrough were last defeated in a league game by Wigan, with Boro enjoying 3 wins and four draws since suffering a 1-0 loss in August 2007.
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On the flip side, the record of Boro manager Tony Pulis against Wigan is anything but enviable. Since his Stoke team defeated Wigan 2-0 in May 2009, the 60-year-old has failed to win any of his nine games against the Latics.