Middlesbrough boosted for trip to Leicester City

Boro boss Tony Mowbray
Boro boss Tony Mowbray

TONY Mowbray is nursing a selection headache ahead of tonight’s trip to Leicester City (kick off 7.45pm).

Having been hit by a spate of absences in recent weeks, it will be a rare luxury for the Boro boss to have an almost fully fit squad to choose from.

Andre Bikey and Marvin Emnes (both hamstring) and Justin Hoyte (hip) all have a chance of being available, Josh McEachran has recovered from the ankle problem that forced him off against Watford last weekend and George Friend and Emmanuel Ledesma were back for that game.

“We’ve had a tough two or three weeks with players being unavailable but every team’s the same and we have to get on with it,” said Mowbray.

“We have a few back and a few options and it’s looking better on the selection front than it was a few weeks ago.

“Andre has trained all week and looks fine, Marvin has trained for the last couple of days and Justin Hoyte trained today after being missing for a few weeks.

“Josh McEachran is up to speed, so we’ve had a few players back from injury. As long as there are no complaints before we leave, we’ll have some decisions to make on the team.”

Boro trained outside at Rockliffe Park yesterday having been forced to work indoors earlier in the week.

And Mowbray went on: “There’s been some great work from the ground staff, who have had the pitch covered for us and took the sheets off and lo and behold, it was OK to train on underneath.

“So we’ve had a bit of grass which was good, we managed to do a little bit of team organisation in preparation for the game.”

Some of Boro’s long-term injuries are also clearing up, with Curtis Main (knee) hitting the comeback trail for the under-21s this week and Muzzy Carayol (knee) pencilled in for a first-team return later this month, while Julio Arca (toe) is also making steady progress.

“Curtis got 55 minutes in a good victory for the under-21s in a very young Boro side at Aston Villa,” said Mowbray.

“That was his first game back so it will take another match or two with the under-21s before he’s back up to speed.

“But he will be another option with his power, his pace and lethal shooting with both feet.

“He’s got really good assets, as we’ve already seen in the first team last season.”

Boro’s other injury question marks concern Andrew Halliday (broken nose), Jonathan Woodgate (calf) and Ishmael Miller (leg).

To say tonight’s televised game is vital would be an understatement.

After back-to-back npower Championship defeats, Boro have slipped from third place to fifth – ironically the Foxes the side to replace them.

Leicester, Crystal Palace and Boro are all locked on 47 points and if there is a winner tonight at the King Power Stadium, the victors will – temporarily at least – go second above Hull City.

But Mowbray’s team must improve on their travels.

While only title favourites boast a better home record, Boro have the worst away form in the top six.

It is a problem they must remedy, hopefully starting tonight.

Meanwhile, Stephen McManus has returned to Boro following a loan spell with Bristol City while teenage full-baxck Bruno Pilatos has been released.