Seven key Middlesbrough fixtures that could define the club's Championship promotion push - including Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and West Brom clashes
Middlesbrough’s fixtures for the 2021/22 campaign have been released – and there are several intriguing match-ups for Neil Warnock’s side.
On paper Boro have been handed a tough start away to Fulham – one of the early promotion favourites following their relegation from the Premier League.
The Teessiders will also hope to be challenging for promotion – but where are the potentially favourable runs? Where may there be some sticky patches? And which fixtures could prove decisive?
We’ve taken a look at seven of the key games which could help to define Boro’s season.
Fulham (A) – August 7
Like last year Boro will open their campaign against one of last season’s relegated clubs.
Warnock’s side were beaten 1-0 at Watford as they kicked off the 2020/21 Championship season, but the Boro boss believes his side will be better equipped this time around.
A trip to Craven Cottage will give a good indicator where the Teessiders are at, with Warnock still hopeful he can make multiple signings before their league opener.
Blackburn (H) – August 28
Boro will want to make the Riverside a fortress next season – with the hope that fans will be able to return.
Last season’s home game against Blackburn derailed the Teessiders’ season as Dael Fry suffered a horrible injury which left Warnock furious and shaken.
Rovers, managed by Boro legend Tony Mowbray, will travel to the Riverside just before the first international break of the season. Boro will want to go into the free weekend on a high.
Sheffield United (H) – September 28
The tenth game of the season when the early pacesetters are starting to be identified.
A meeting with Warnock’s former side, who will be expected to be challenging for promotion under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic, on a Tuesday night will attract attention.
Boro will hope they can put an early marker down.
Peterborough (H) – October 16
While there are clearly more eye-catching fixtures, these are the types of games Boro will need to win to stay in the promotion mix.
Facing a newly-promoted Peterborough side after October’s international break could set the tone for the rest of the month.
Boro will then face another home game against Barnsley before a trip to his former side Cardiff and a meeting with Birmingham at the Riverside.
Nottingham Forest (H) – December 26
A home fixture on Boxing Day – hopefully the Riverside will have a big crowd in attendance.
It’s the first of three games in seven days for Boro, who will then face trips to Blackpool and Sheffield United.
Three points against Forest would give them momentum.
West Brom (H) – February 22
Sandwiched between two away games against Bristol City and Barnsley, a home meeting with West Brom is likely to provide a stern test.
At this stage the league table will have taken shape and the race for promotion will step up a notch.
Bournemouth (A) – April 18
For the second season running, Boro will travel to Bournemouth on Good Friday.
Will Warnock’s side still be in the promotion mix as they head into the final five games? If so, the game at the Vitality Stadium could be a decisive one.