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Feb 26, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
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Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Leeds United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Leeds United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday night's Championship fixture between Middlesbrough and Leeds United.

Leeds United make the trip to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night having strengthened their grip of second place in the Championship standings.

However, Boro play host to the Yorkshire giants embroiled in a relegation battle after a succession of poor results since the turn of the year.

Match preview

Following a fifth defeat from six matches in all competitions, Marcelo Bielsa came under fire regarding his team selections after seemingly being against rotating his squad of players.

However, the Argentine's faith has since been rewarded with a return of seven points from a possible nine against Brentford, Bristol City and Reading.

Goals continue to be a problem, with just three being scored during their last five outings, but a greater resoluteness at the back has aided Leeds' efforts to remain in the top two.

Despite beginning the week with a five-point advantage over the chasing pack, Bielsa will acknowledge that his side cannot afford more setbacks if they want to avoid being dragged into a battle with the teams below them.

However, with games against Boro, Hull City and Huddersfield Town to come in succession - clubs which are struggling in the bottom half of the table - three successive victories would put Leeds significantly closer to a long-awaited return to the Premier League.

After 10 matches without success in all competitions, facing a resurgence Leeds has come at the wrong time for Jonathan Woodgate as he bids to move Boro away from the dropzone.

Aside from four successive victories over the Christmas and New Year period, the former Whites defender has done little to suggest that he will be the long-term occupant of the Boro hotseat.

Nevertheless, with just three points separating the team from 22nd-placed Wigan Athletic, his players may react to the pressure in a positive manner, especially under the lights at a packed Riverside Stadium.

With games coming up against many of their relegation rivals, Woodgate needs to find a catalyst from somewhere or risk being replace before the run-in.

Middlesbrough Championship form: DDLDLL

Leeds United Championship form: WLLDWW

Team News

Bielsa will be forced into a reshuffle with Kalvin Phillips ruled out with the injury that he sustained against Reading on Saturday afternoon.

Stuart Dallas is in line to return to the centre of midfield, resulting in Ezgjan Alioski coming back into the team at left-back.

The remainder of the starting lineup should stay the same, despite Patrick Bamford extending his goalless run to five matches.

Boro boss Woodgate is likely to make a number of changes, which should include starts for Paddy McNair and Lukas Nmecha.

Britt Assombalonga is expected to keep his place in the team ahead of Rudy Gestede.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Pears; Howson, Moukoudi, Shotton, Friend; Wing, Saville, McNair; Fletcher, Nmecha; Assombalonga

Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Casilla; Ayling, Cooper, White, Alioski; Klich, Hernandez, Dallas; Costa, Harrison, Bamford

We say: Middlesbrough 0-1 Leeds United

Everything points to this game not featuring many goals. Leeds have made a habit of winning games by one-goal margins, while Boro have struggled for goals in recent games. With that in mind, a 1-0 win for the visitors looks a strong possibility.

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