Tony Pulis discusses Middlesbrough's promotion hopes after 'sluggish' Aston Villa performance

Tony Pulis saw his Middlesbrough side lose at Aston Villa
Tony Pulis saw his Middlesbrough side lose at Aston Villa

Tony Pulis says Middlesbrough will keep grafting away to secure a play-off place - despite their promotion hopes taking a massive dent at Aston Villa.

Goals from Anwar El Ghazi, John McGinn and Albert Adomah sentenced Boro to a 3-0 defeat at Villa Park in a performance Pulis described as 'sluggish'.

But it came as no surprise to the Middlesbrough chief, who admitted that training had been flat after back-to-back defeats.

The Teessiders surrendered leads against both Brentford and Preston North End in the build-up to their trip to the Midlands, in what was the first time Pulis had tasted back-to-back defeats since arriving at the Riverside Stadium.

And he feels the defeat at Villa was another hangover from a disappointing run of form which has seen Boro take just one point from their last four outings.

"It’s been a difficult week after Wednesday night,” admitted Pulis.

“They were flat after Wednesday, I think everybody was flat in respect of the result and the way it went

“Coming in Thursday it was a real downer looking at them, and it’s been there for a couple of days and you just hope they will get over that.

"I thought the first 20 minutes we looked really slow and sluggish, we didn’t look anywhere near what we can be.

“We’ve given away three shocking goals. They’ve had five shots on target and scored three goals, which is a great ration for them but the goals that we’ve conceded have been really, really poor and very, very unlike us."

Despite this setback, Pulis believes his side can still seal a place in the top six and a second successive shot at the play-offs.

But the Boro chief is appreciative of the talent possessed by sides in the Championship and knows it will be far from easy in the coming weeks,

"We’ll do our best,” he said.

“There’s some good teams, look at the size of this club (Villa), it’s a good league, sometimes you get carried away with your own self and you don’t look around at what you’re competing against.”