Middlesbrough defender praises Leeds United and Norwich City but hasn't given up on automatic promotion
Middlesbrough defender Ryan Shotton hasn't given up on automatic promotion this season but knows his side are relying on others to slip up.
Boro sit fifth in the Championship, nine points off the automatic promotion places with 12 games to go, but do have a game in hand on Leeds United and Norwich.
Despite their goalless draw with Wigan at the weekend, Boro have lost just one of their last 10 league games and Shotton still believes a top two spot is still possible.
“Not a chance, no,” Shotton told Gazette Live when asked if he's ruling out automatic promotion.
“Norwich and Leeds will win games and we just hope they slip up. At times Leeds can go up and down but at the same time any team can.
“That’s the sign of a good team. You can’t knock them, they’ve been up there for a long time now and we’re just hoping they have a little blip for a couple of games where they can’t get themselves together.
“But Leeds seem to bounce back, as you saw on Friday night against West Brom. Norwich are going well, you can’t fault them.
“We’ve just got to do what we can do and hope they slip up but at the same time we can’t be taking our foot off the gas, we’ve got to make sure we are 100% every week. We’ve just got to keep winning, keep grinding out results and doing our best.”
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Shotton has been a regular for the Teessiders under Tony Pulis this campaign after joining Boro in the summer of 2017.
The 30-year-old signed a three-year contract at the Riverside but struggled for game time under Garry Monk, who lasted just six months in the Boro hot seat.
After scoring the winner in Boro's 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the end of 2017, Shotton was disappointed to hear of Monk's sacking a day later.
Even so, the defender has flourished under Pulis and gained confidence by the manager's trust.
“There is times when you go, ‘this isn’t quite working’, but I never blamed Garry Monk for that, I just kept working hard and when the time came, tried to do it," added Shotton when reflecting on his past.
“I came back and scored that winner at Sheffield Wednesday then to hear he’d left the club was disappointing for me, even though he hadn’t picked me.
“When Tony was announced, I’d played for him previously so I knew if he trusted me like he did at Stoke I would have every chance of playing and that’s been the case so I’ve loved every minute of it.
“Tony has trusted me so it’s now about the group of lads keeping together and pushing on. It’s a great group of lads, the best I’ve been with, so that helps a lot with trying to do what we are doing.”