Michael Carrick relishing Leeds United atmosphere as Middlesbrough go in search of hat-trick of wins over Premier League's relegated trio

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Middlesbrough coach Michael Carrick reacts on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Preston North End at Riverside Stadium on November 28, 2023 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Middlesbrough coach Michael Carrick reacts on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Preston North End at Riverside Stadium on November 28, 2023 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Middlesbrough coach Michael Carrick reacts on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Preston North End at Riverside Stadium on November 28, 2023 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Michael Carrick will not be using Middlesbrough’s trip to Leeds United as a measuring stick but has encouraged his players to welcome the hostile atmosphere at Elland Road.

Boro face three of the Championship’s top six sides over the course of the next fortnight which may go some way to dictating quite how far Carrick’s side can continue to progress up the league table following an impressive 4-0 win over Preston North End in the week.

But Boro face a Leeds side who have lost just one of their last nine league games and have yet to lose at Elland Road this season in what is expected to be a white hot atmosphere in Yorkshire.

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“You respect the game that it is and the situation that it is – I’m sure I’ll get a nice warm welcome as well. But that’s great, that’s football,” said Carrick.

Hayden Hackney is a doubt for Middlesbrough's trip to Leeds United. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Hayden Hackney is a doubt for Middlesbrough's trip to Leeds United. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Hayden Hackney is a doubt for Middlesbrough's trip to Leeds United. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

"You want that emotion and that passion. Some games bring that different kind of atmosphere, but for us, in terms of preparing for the game, it’s business as usual.

"The players have played in big games since I’ve been here and in different, challenging atmospheres and dealt with it very well, so I don’t worry about that side of things.

"All the atmospheres that are described as hostile or difficult to play in are the best ones to play in – they’re the ones I enjoyed the most and I’ll pass that on at the right time. Some people see that as being a bit tough and uncomfortable but for me that's exactly what we want.

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He added on the trip to Leeds: “I wouldn’t really use it as a measuring stick. It’s another game for us. It’s one of the tougher games, on paper, that you’ll face. We’re well aware of the challenge. It’s not going to make or break our season but it's a great game for us to go there and try and win.”

Carrick’s side have done well when up against the two other teams to have dropped down from the Premier League last season with victories over both Southampton and Leicester City at the Riverside.

But despite Boro going in as underdogs, Carrick believes his side are more than capable of challenging, where a win could see them move level on points with the Championship play-off spots.

“We understand the league and the challenge we face, they’re a very good team with largely Premier League players or players who have experienced the Premier League – which does make a difference,” said Carrick.

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"But the boys have shown against Southampton and against Leicester that we are capable of challenging and playing well against teams who have come down and I’m sure if we play how we're capable of then we’ve got a chance. It’s not going to be easy but anything can happen in these games.”

Boro welcomed back defender Matt Clarke in the win over Preston in midweek but will face a wait over the fitness of both Dael Fry and Hayden Hackney.