Middlesbrough must pick weakened backline at Burnley

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray .
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray .

TONY Mowbray admits Middlesbrough are paying a heavy price for the absence of their key defenders – but the manager will again be forced to name a patched-up backline at Burnley tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

With Justin Hoyte, Jonathan Woodgate and Seb Hines all unavailable, the Boro boss was forced to play full-back George Friend at centre-half in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, with winger Andy Halliday drafted into the left-back role.

And Mowbray, whose side have lost six in seven in the Championship, said: “It’s becoming a concern.

“To lose three at Derby, four at Ipswich and then four again at Palace, it’s a worry.

“Yet there are personnel reasons. I could give you our first-choice back four, and at the minute, you’d have to say that three of them aren’t playing.

“That’s football and you have to get on with it.

“The squad is only ever as strong or as weak as the numbers underneath what you would call the first XI – that’s what football is.

“If we’ve got Hoyte, Woodgate and Hines injured, you have to take it on the chin and get on with it.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them will have a chance for Burnley.”

l SEE match report and pictures in Tomorrow’s SportMail.