Two teams at opposite ends of the EFL Championship collide when Middlesbrough and Birmingham City meet on Saturday.
Boro got their new year off to a positive start, beating Wycombe Wanderers 3-1 in their last league game. They now lie just a point outside of the playoff positions.
Meanwhile, Birmingham are 19th and hang four points above the drop zone.
Their 2-0 loss to Blackburn in their previous Championship game was their 10th league defeat of the season, having won just five of their 23 games so far.
Middlesbrough vs Birmingham City Head-to-Head
Middlesbrough have not lost to Birmingham on home soil since March 2013, six Riverside games ago.
In fact, Boro have only lost once to their opponents in their last 13 encounters.
This weekend’s fixture will be the 18th straight Championship clash between the two clubs. Overall, it will be their 31st consecutive league match-up.
Birmingham have the better historical record, winning 45 of the 118 games ever played between the two.
Middlesbrough have won 37 of those encounters, with both sharing 36 draws in that time.
Middlesbrough vs Birmingham City Team News
Marcus Browne will not be available for selection after he was stretchered off in the club’s 2-1 FA Cup third-round loss to Brentford last weekend.
It is not known how long his dislocated kneecap will keep him sidelined for.
Meanwhile, Ashley Fletcher is nearing a return and has an outside shot of getting the nod for this one. However, it is likely that this match has come a bit too soon for the striker.
Injured: Grant Hall, Marcus Browne
Doubtful: Ashley Fletcher
Lukas Jutkiewicz could be recalled to lead the Birmingham line after being dropped for Scott Hogan in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
First-choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge could also come back in between the sticks after sitting out the cup tie.
Middlesbrough vs Birmingham City Predicted XI
Middlesbrough Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marcus Bettinelli, Anfernee Dijksteel, Dael Fry, Paddy McNair, Marc Bola, Sam Morsy, George Saville, Marcus Tavernier, Chuba Akpom, Marvin Johnson, Britt Assombalonga
Birmingham City Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Neil Etheridge; Maxime Colin, Jake Clarke-Slater, Mikel San Jose, George Friend; Ivan Sunjic, Adam Clayton; Jonathan Leko; Ivan Sanchez, Jeremie Bela; Lukas Jutkiewicz
Middlesbrough vs Birmingham City Prediction
Middlesbrough should have enough firepower to see them to three points this weekend.
The Blues had a tough day out in the FA Cup, although they did field a very altered side.
Fresh legs could come into play later on in the game but Neil Warnock’s men have the superior attacking power and defensive nous pound-for-pound.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-1 Birmingham CityPublished 14 Jan 2021, 15:56 IST