BURNLEY welcome Middlesbrough to Turf Moor tonight looking for a victory that will propel them back into Championship play-off contention.
The Teeside outfit currently sit in sixth position, seven points ahead of the Clarets but travel with the second worst away record in all of the Football League.
With a game in hand courtesy of the postponed match against Huddersfield following their success in the FA Cup, Burnley have benefitted from a weekend off and will be looking to close the gap to just four points.
Long-term casualty Ben Mee is still unavailable as he continues his rehabilitation from a knee injury. Both Michael Duff and Sam Vokes are expected to miss tonight’s fixture as they recover from calf and foot injuries respectively.
Striker Charlie Austin continues his return from the hamstring injury that sidelined him in January and will be looking to add to his goal tally as he has only scored once so far in 2013.
Middlesbrough have defensive worries ahead of tonight’s encounter as Stuart Parnaby is ruled out with the torn hamstring he suffered in their 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Their defensive woes are compounded as ex-England international Jonathan Woodgate (calf) and Seb Hines (knee) both miss out, meaning a probable return to the side for former Claret Andre Bikey. He is likely to be joined by Stephen McManus or club captain and ex-Burnley loanee Rhys Williams as Boro are forced into a defensive reshuffle.
Justin Hoyte, Julio Arca and Scott McDonald are the long-term absentees for Boro.
The Clarets have not won in their last three games, suffering defeats at the hands of Birmingham and Bolton and picking a point up away at Peterborough. This followed a three game winning streak which means their charge up the table has faltered in recent weeks.
However, Burnley boast a strong home record as they have played fifteen, won seven, drawn four and lost only four games so far. They have scored 23 goals and conceded just 16 - the fifth best home defense in the Championship.
Boro have been on a miserable run of form as of late as they have only won once in their last six games, a 1-0 victory over Leeds, as they have picked up just three points from the last 18 available. However, their strong start to the season has meant they remain in the play-off places.
They have had a torrid time on the road this season as they have lost ten of their sixteen games away from home, winning only five games on the road. In those fixtures Tony Mowbray’s side have scored 19 times and let in 31 goals.
Previous Encounters at Turf Moor
Middlesbrough have only won four times in 113 years but two of those victories have come in their last three visits.
Boro won the last encounter in 2011/2012 courtesy of goals from Nicky Bailey and Joe Bennett as they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
However, the season before Burnley cruised to a 3-1 win, with goals from Jay Rodriguez, Wade Elliott and Michael Duff putting Burnley three goals up at half-time before Andrew Taylor struck a late consolation for the visitors.
Burnley travelled to Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium in August 2012 losing 3-2 as the game exploded into life in the final fifteen minutes. Burnley took the lead with a goal from top-scorer Charlie Austin only for Nicky Bailey to equalise a minute later. The scores stayed level until an outrageous strike from Adam Reach put Boro ahead. Junior Stanislas responded with an equally impressive effort seven minutes later only for Luke Williams to score the winner just four minutes after coming on.
Kevin Wright officiates tonight’s game in only his 12th outing this season and fifth in the Championship. Wright has given out 34 yellow cards and two reds in his games so far.