Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesbrough: Keeper Darren Randolph targets positive finish to 2017 for Boro
Keeper Darren Randolph is determined to help Middlesbrough finish 2017 on a high to boost the Teessiders' Championship promotion ambitions.
Boro visit Sheffield Wednesday for their final away game of the year tomorrow (3pm kick-off), before a festive double header at the Riverside against Bolton (Boxing Day) and Aston Villa (December 30).
Garry Monk’s inconsistent side suffered a setback with last week’s poor performance in a 2-1 reverse at Millwall, and Wednesday are sure to be tough opponents again, despite the mid-table Owls’ own concerns.
“We’ve spoken about putting a run together and we haven’t been able to do that,” said Ireland keeper Randolph, who has endured 2-1 defeats in the last three away games.
“It’s been very frustrating, but we’re looking at the games coming up and it would be nice to do that in the next few games going into January.
“I think because there are so many games you look at it like one at a time.
“You obviously need that first win to get off the mark in a run like that so we’ll be looking at the next one to try and do that.”
Boro are unhappy to be sitting in 10th place after 22 games, with 32 points on the board – five adrift of the play-off places and five ahead of tomorrow’s 15th-placed hosts.
Randolph, though, is wary of the quality of players in the Wednesday squad.
“You look through Sheffield Wednesday’s team and they have a whole bunch of players who’ve played Championship or higher,” he told mfc.co.uk.
“We’re not going to worry too much about them, though, we’ll just be thinking about ourselves.”
Wednesday’s former Sunderland striker, Steven Fletcher, is battling back from a knee problem and is relishing the busy festive period.
Tomorrow’s Hillsborough meeting is followed by trips to Nottingham Forest and Brentford, before lowly Burton Albion visit on New Year’s Day.
“We have got a lot of games coming up, which can only be a good thing for us,” Fletcher told the Sheffield Star.
“Hopefully we can string a few wins together.
“We have lost two on the bounce, so we just need to get some points on the board.
“We need to keep our heads down, work hard and hopefully things will come together and we will get the injured players back.
“Hopefully we can have a full-strength squad going into the New Year. We know what we can do and so do the rest of the league.”