Tony Pulis discusses attacking experiment, Middlesbrough injury blows and play-off hopes after Nottingham Forest defeat
Tony Pulis believes Middlesbrough's injury problems caught up with them during the 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest - with his attacking experiment back-firing.
Boro saw their play-off hopes take a dent after a disappointing display at the City Ground - with a Joe Lolley brace either side of a fine strike from Alexander Milosevic sealing victory for the hosts.
And Pulis believes his side were always going to face a tricky task giving their lack of available defenders, with Dael Fry, Dani Ayala and George Friend all sidelined in a triple injury blow.
Their absence prompted Pulis to name an experimental attack-minded line-up, but he was left 'disappointed' by a lack of firepower in the final third.
"It was always going to be difficult; we've only got two real defenders on the pitch," he said.
"We're trying to put square pegs in round holes and it really caught us out today.
"I'm disappointed. We played with forwards on the pitch today, more forward-thinking players than I've ever played, and you want them to do a lot more going forward."
Defeat saw Middlesbrough slide out of the top six once again, with Derby County leapfrogging them into the play-off places on goal difference.
The Rams and fellow rivals Bristol City both hold a game in hand on Boro, but Pulis is refusing to admit defeat in his quest for promotion.
"We've still got a chance," he said.
"We've got to dust ourselves down and we need all the players to be together and try and get a result Saturday."
Meanwhile, opposition manager Martin O'Neill hailed what he believed was Forest's best performance of his tenure.
Four straight defeats had put and end to the Tricky Trees' own play-off hopes, and O'Neill hopes that his side can now find the consistency he has craved since his appointment.
"What we as a side have to do now is try and win away from home," said the Forest manager.
"It's a question of saying this is a performance where we were terrific, the best performance of the season, and the players have to go and earn that right to do a little trick on the ball in the 75th minute when you're 2-0 up.
"You don't want to be brittle, you don't want to be a fair-weather team.
"That was us at our best, but what we want to be is at times when we're not at our best to be able to cut it and that's something that's been missing at this club for a long, long time."