Middlesbrough’s defensive injury crisis will make tomorrow’s (January 5) FA Cup tie with Peterborough United an open, entertaining affair, according to Boro boss Tony Pulis.
Pulis is without four central defenders for the third round tie at the Riverside Stadium including regular starters Daniel Ayala, Adrian Flint and Ryan Shotton. Boro are set to name their youngest-ever player Nathan Wood (16) in their back four and veteran goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos is also expected to play and become the club’s oldest-ever player at 40 years and 25 days. Former England skipper Bryan Robson is currently the oldest player in Boro history.
Boro will give a debut to new signing Rajiv van La Parra, a wide player who has arrived from Huddersfield Town.
Pulis told the Middlesbrough Gazette: “I think we’ll have the youngest player and the oldest player in the club’s history in the squad, which is an extraordinary coincidence and an amazing situation.
“It will be a tough game for us because of the situation at the back. It will be a very open game, it will have to be.”
Former Posh striker Britt Assombalonga is expected to lead Boro’s attack.
Posh could give debuts to new on-loan signings left-back Dan Lafferty and centre-back Ben White, but they will be without suspended winger Marcus Maddison. Siriki Dembele could revert to a wide role with Matt Godden returning to partner star striker Ivan Toney against a makeshift back four.
“A Tony Pulis side is always competitive,” Posh manager Steve Evans said. “I assume he will pick a weakened side, but Championship squads are full of quality these days so we will still be the underdogs.
“We will field a strong team and there will no excuses from us if we don’t get through.”