Middlesbrough vs Hull City

A promotion six pointer is the main focus in the Championship this weekend, it’s also the earliest kick off, being played on Friday night rather than Saturday.

Speculation was rife last week that the Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka could be on his way out of the Riverside after not taking training on the Saturday and managing the defeat against Charlton on Sunday. The Spaniard insisted there wasn’t any problems and is fully prepared for the battle against fellow promotion rivals.

Aitor Karanka is back for the game.

Boro sit in 3rd place, 1 point behind Brighton and Hove Albion in the automatic position and have won 2 out of their last 5 matches. Hull however, (who are right on Boro’s tail in 4th) haven’t won any of their last 5 games including a defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup but the last time the two sides met this season. The Tigers triumphed with a 3-0 victory.

Boro captain Grant Leadbitter is back in the side after returning from injury which will be a big boost for the club, but they also need to get their January signing Jordan Rhodes firing, the highly rated striker has only scored 1 goal in his 9 appearances.

Jake Livermore could be back in for Hull after his injury but the Manchester United loanee Nick Powell, remains sidelined. Boro won’t want a repeat of the previous meeting after will have to find a way to stop Hull’s top goalscorer Abel Hernández who has notched 17 for this campaign.

Abel Hernandez is in fine form.

Whoever comes out on top in this fixture will take 2nd place but this could only be short lived depending on the how the results go on the Saturday. One things for sure it will certainly be one for the purists and sure to be thrilling encounter.