Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock might be ready to shuffle his pack as he makes a tough trip to Millwall this weekend looking to make it three wins on the bounce (KO 3pm, Sat).
The game is the third in eight strength-sapping days after Riverside victories over Stoke and Preston.
Those six points have kept Boro within touching distance of the play-off places so the temptation is to play the strongest side possible, especially as it is followed by a two week international break.
“There’s nine games to go and we are still involved so we are looking forward to it,” he said. “We have to give it a go. We might be outsiders but anything is possible in this league. I’ve never given up on anything in my career.
“There are other teams involved but we can’t worry about them, we just have go out looking for three points in every game.”
Boro are five points adrift of sixth spot and have three of the teams above to play after the break so they really need to make this game count if they are to pile the pressure on their rivals.
Millwall were in the mix themselves but a midweek defeat to QPR may have left them with too much to do.
But Warnock remains wary of a strong, physical side who Boro beat 3-0 in the reverse fixture in December.
“I don’t think that will count for much,” said the boss. “They have changed the way they play a bit since then. They have a couple of fast lads up front and they support them well from midfield so it will be difficult for us.
“They are a good team. Gary Rowett has got them going well so it will be tough, especially when it is our third game in a week. That makes it hard for us. Do we need fresh legs? Do we make a few changes? We’ll look at that before we decide on the team but we are going there to have a go. I’d settle for a clean sheet to be honest.”
The team is starting to fray around the edges after a long, tough season and his latest headache is influential Paddy McNair.
The defender-come-midfielder limping off with a knee injury in midweek yet has been called up for Northern Ireland action in the international break and Warnock is not happy with his workload.
Northern Ireland play World Cup qualifier in Italy and at home to Bulgaria either side of a friendly against the USA. And the last of those games is less than 48 hours before Boro resume action at Bournemouth.
“It’s one of those things where they’re important games for the Irish and he wants to be involved,” said Warnock.
McNair was due to be assessed by Boro medical staff before the Millwall and McNair remains a doubt, as does Britt Assombalonga who missed midweek with a hamstring niggle.
Ashley Fletcher returned in that game after his own injury problems and will be assessed to make sure there is no reaction.
Chuba Akpom stands by to start up front at the Den. “To be fair, in Chuba’s last two games he’s put a lot of work in and contributed to the goals. That’s all you can ask from a striker.”
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