Middlesbrough v Leeds United heading for a sell-out as Championship promotion race hots up

The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Getty Images.
The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Getty Images.

Middlesbrough’s home game against rivals Leeds United is heading for a sell-out - with Boro looking to put their FA Cup humiliation firmly behind them.

Boro crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of League Two Newport County in midweek, a desperately disappointing result for Tony Pulis & Co.

The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Getty Images.

The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Getty Images.

Pulis will be keen to avoid any hangover and build on last weekend’s impressive 3-2 league win over West Brom, when Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds head to the Riverside in the lunchtime kick-off tomorrow (KO 1pm).

And the mouthwatering Championship clash is close to selling out, with more than 30,000 tickets sold by close of play last night.

Leeds are second behind leaders Norwich City, with Boro three places and seven points below them in fifth.

The battle for promotion is fierce in the Championship with Leeds and Norwich neck and neck on 57 points, with Sheffield United, West Brom and Bristol City - on a superb winning streak after six straight wins - all scrapping with Boro in the play-offs.

A Boro statement read: “As of Thursday lunch-time, we had sold over 30,000. With seats going fast, we’re rapidly closing in on the previous biggest attendance this season – against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day – and the ticket office are anticipating a complete sell-out.”

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough goalkeeper Andy Lonergan has joined League One side Rochdale on an emergency loan.

The experienced 35-year-old keeper has joined the Spotland club on a short-term loan deal. Lonergan has only made two appearances for Boro since arriving on a free in the summer.

The former Preston North End, Leeds United, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham keeper had previously been close to a move to North East neighbours Sunderland last January.

A Boro statement read: “Under EFL guidelines, clubs can sign goalkeepers on an emergency loan basis outside of the transfer window when all of their own professionals in that position are injured or suspended.

“The agreement runs for an initial seven days, but can be extended by further weeks should those circumstances continue.

“Lonergan’s last outing for Boro - one of two he has made for the club - was in our Carabao Cup victory against Dale last year.”

A Rochdale statement added: “After Josh Lillis suffered an injury in last weekend’s win at Walsall, Dale have acted swiftly to secure Lonergan in time for Saturday’s match at home to Coventry City.”