Aston Villa-Middlesbrough: Momentum and mentality vital for Boro boss Garry Monk

Dimi Konstantopoulos has the bottle for the big occasion.
Dimi Konstantopoulos has the bottle for the big occasion.

Garry Monk has been thrilled with the momentum Middlesbrough are building – now the boss is looking to carry that on in the Carabao Cup.

Boro are seventh in the Championship table just a point outside the play-off spots and only three points behind leaders Leeds United.

Monk’s attention first though is focused on tonight’s third round cup tie at Aston Villa (kick-off 7.45pm).

His team have come through a “tough” week unbeaten, including a battling goalless draw at Villa Park seven days ago when Boro were down to 10 men early in the match.

Monk wants the unbeaten sequence adding to which will take further momentum into their push for a top six spot and has pointed to the “mentality” of his squad as the key ingredient.

“It’s important to put runs of results together, it’s a very difficult league to do that in, know matter who you are and how good your squad is,” he said.“You have to put the fight in first, play with intensity, with a high level of concentration – there are so many ingredients which go in just to win one game

“We’re on a little run but we have to try to extend that now and take the club forward.

“We have a very good group here, with a good mentality and commitment to the work we are doing. We’ll keep showing that.”

Monk is likely to freshen up his side following that “difficult” passage in the league and with a vital test at Fulham to come on Saturday.

“Credit to all the players - it’s been a very difficult week but we’ve come away with seven points, facing adversity a few times in that week,” said Monk. “It just shows how we are building and how good the character and spirit is in the group.

“We know that we can play better, which we’ve already shown, but when you have to dig and find that fight and spirit to get the result then we’ve shown that trait too.”

Ex-Hartlepool United keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos looks set to play at Villa Park tonight, while there could be starts for George Friend, Ryan Shotton, Adam Forshaw, Adam Fletcher and Patrick Bamford could all start.