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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Boro defence should offer chances for visiting Leeds

Business as usual for Tony Pulis

Leeds winger Ezgjan Alioski wheels away in celebebration
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The Beast from the East’s wintry grip over the country has been so tight that even last night’s Premier League darts, an event held indoors, bit the dust.

So given the amount of snowfall in the north east of England over the past few days, it is somewhat surprising that as of Thursday night Middlesbrough’s televised clash with Leeds has been given the go-ahead.

Staff at the Riverside worked relentlessly to clear the snow-covered pitch and with undersoil heating at the ground, both sides should have few complaints about the playing surface if the game survives further snow forecast today.

Despite the disruption Boro boss Tony Pulis has said his side’s preparation has been “business as usual” as they aim to narrow the three-point gap to the top six.

Boro have won six of their last ten Sky Bet Championship games on home soil with their three defeats in that time coming against top-five sides Derby, Aston Villa and Fulham.

The hosts are boosted by the availability of tricky winger Adama Traore for Leeds’s visit after his red card in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Sunderland was overturned by the FA but Rudy Gestede is out and captain Grant Leadbitter remains doubtful.

A characteristic of Pulis sides is their resolute nature but Boro have kept just one clean sheet in 15 outings in all competitions which should give Leeds hope of breaching their backline.

The Whites claimed their first win under new manager Paul Heckingbottom – a 1-0 success over Brentford – at the weekend and have troubled promotion-chasers Sheffield United, Bristol City and Derby since the former Barnsley boss took charge.

They have looked far more threatening since playmaker Samuel Saiz returned from suspension in the draw at Derby and should at least get on the scoresheet at the Riverside.

Leeds to score a goal
2pts 7-10 Coral

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Team news
Middlesbrough Adama Traore is available after his suspension was
overtuned but Rudy Gestede (ankle) is out for the season. Grant Leadbitter could make the bench.

Leeds Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe are doubts and manager Paul Heckingbottom has said there is “no need to risk them”.

Key stat
Middlesbrough have kept just one clean sheet in 15 matches in all competitions

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A characteristic of Pulis sides is their resolute nature but Boro have kept just one clean sheet in 15 outings
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