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Middlesbrough squad confident of causing play-off upset against Aston Villa - here’s why

Fabio (centre left) and Ben Gibson after the Boro clash with Aston Villa.
Fabio (centre left) and Ben Gibson after the Boro clash with Aston Villa.

The Middlesbrough squad is ‘quietly confident’ of overturning Aston Villa’s play-off advantage and causing an upset tonight, insists skipper Ben Gibson.

Villa are favourites to progress to the Championship play-off final thanks to Mile Jedinak’s header at the Riverside Stadium.

But Gibson, relishing the prospect of doing battle in a red-hot atmosphere at Villa Park, is adamant Boro have the quality and character needed to overturn Villa’s 1-0 first leg lead.

“Let’s go and cause an upset, everyone will be backing them and rightly so because they are a very good team with a 1-0 lead but we’ll go there and have a good crack with our heads held high,” said the Boro skipper.

“The lads are confident enough in their ability to score goals.

“I think we’ve won in the cup there and drawn in the league with 10 men for 85 minutes so there’s nothing for us to be downbeat about.

“Villa are a good side, we know that, but we’re a very good side and we’re going to go there and have a shoot-out away from home.

“It’s a good pitch, it’s sold out, it’ll be fiery and fantastic, two good teams fighting it out to get to Wembley.

“That’s the reason why we play football and it will be a brilliant occasion.

“We’ll be geeing each other up there in the dressing room, revving each other up and we’ll get things going and that’s what we do.

“We get that belief and look round the dressing room at the quality we have. We’ll be quietly confident.”

Steve Bruce’s experienced Villa side nullified the threat of Boro on Saturday by doubling, sometimes tripling up, on dangerman Adama Traore.

Gibson knows Boro need to be more creative in the final third and offer more of a goal threat if they are to breach a resilient Villa backline.

“Credit to Villa they defended really well, they’re obviously a very good side and will be favourites but there’s a lot of positives for us to take from that,” he added.

“We just have to nail down the final ball whether it’s being more creative. We have got positives to take, though.”

Gibson believes performances have steadily progressed under Tony Pulis and he’s demanding one last push to achieve the dream of promotion to the Premier League.

“Since the manager has come in we’ve got progressively better and better. This performance is another step on that ladder. Now it’s crunch time, and we need a repeat performance with a little bit of added quality in the final third.

“We know it won’t be easy, we know that they’re going to make Villa Park a cauldron, and we know everyone will be backing Villa to get to Wembley, I don’t mind that, we don’t mind that.

“We’ll go there and we’ll give it our best shot, we know they’ve sold out. Brilliant. Bring it on.”