Tony Pulis sends a warning to Leeds and Norwich after Middlesbrough's shock cup exit
Tony Pulis is hopeful that a surprise defeat to Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup will spur on his Middlesbrough players ahead of a hectic festive period.
Jake Hesketh's second-half strike saw Boro crash out of the competition at the quarter final stage, as League One outfit Burton progressed to the last four.
It was the Middlesbrough, though, who dominated proceedings only to be let down once again by a lack of cutting edge in and around the box.
Such issues have blighted the Teessiders' campaign thus far and, while Pulis was left disappointed with his side's poor finishing, he hopes the result will force his side to battle even harder in their upcoming fixtures.
Boro face Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Derby over the hectic festive period, and the Welshman has warned Boro's promotion rivals that his side will be looking to 'show some character' and earn results as they look to cut the gap between themselves and the top two of Leeds and Norwich.
“They’re really disappointed in there and everyone else will be, but we’ve got to show some character now," he said, speaking to mfc.co.uk
"We’ve got a really busy Christmas period coming up, a lot of tough games and games we’ve got to do well in.”
While keen to move from the shock result, Pulis was once again left irked by his side's poor fortune in front of goal as chances once again went begging.
"First 20/25 minutes I thought we played really well and we created some very good opportunities,” he admitted.
“I think it was four opportunities – three one-on-ones with the goalkeeper and the other one where Martin (Braithwaite) plays a ball across goal for Jordan (Hugill) and we don’t score.
“Then we’ve had opportunities second half and I think Flinty’s (Aden Flint) sums up what’s happening at the club at the moment.
"We think it’s going to hit the back of the net but it doesn’t."
Attacking reinforcements are once again thought to be high on Pulis' priority list once the January window opens, with Boro having been linked with swoops for Connor Wickham and Adama Traore in recent weeks.