Tony Pulis has this message to Middlesbrough squad ahead of Aston Villa play-off tie

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Tony Pulis admits Aston Villa are favourites heading into tonight’s Championship play-off tie – but the Middlesbrough boss insists the contest is far from over.

Villa hold a 1-0 first leg lead thanks to Mile Jedinak’s goal but Pulis revealed the mood among the Boro camp remains very upbeat.

Pulis said: “We’re ready to go. The players were in Sunday and had a good talk about the game and their preparation.

“Everybody is still very positive.

“Villa have the upper hand, and will go in as strong favourites. We’ve got to make sure we know what we’ve got to do. The players are looking forward to the game already.

“We’ve got to be focused, we’ve got to understand what we are, what we want to achieve.”

Pulis believes his side were unfortunate to lose the first leg, adding: “Generally, the team played well.

“We got beat by a set play which was really disappointing. You’ve got to do the basics right.

“We needed a break and I don’t think we got one. We got in the final third quite a few times, but our final pass or movement wasn’t as fluent as you would hope.

“But I thought the players really worked hard and gave it their best.”