Preview: Doncaster Rovers vs. Middlesbrough

Doncaster manager Paul Dickov prior to kick off against Wigan on August 20, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship encounter between in-form Doncaster and Middlesbrough at the Keepmoat.

The Doncaster Rovers revival sees them host Middlesbrough at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday as they look to keep up their recent drastic improvement in form.

Doncaster ended a nine-match winless streak with a surprise 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic on January 18 and have since drawn with Blackpool and beaten fellow strugglers Charlton Athletic, also by three goals to nil.

That string of results has seen them burst out of the bottom three, and they could move as high as 17th with another victory on Saturday.

They are now four points clear of the relegation zone and have kept clean sheets in their last three home league games having not kept one at the Keepmoat since October before that.

Manager Paul Dickov will be stressing to his side that they are by no means safe yet, but with returning striker Billy Sharp already back amongst the goals, the hosts will be confident going into Saturday's match.

They will be without Jamie McCombe and Rob Jones for the game, but loanee Bongani Khumalo should start in what is expected to be an unchanged lineup.

Middlesbrough will certainly ask questions of Doncaster's renewed confidence as they still have hopes of challenging for the playoffs this season.

They currently sit 10th in the Championship table and are now seven points off the top six after a period of inconsistency that has seen them lose two, win two and draw two of their last six games in all competitions.

Looking just at league form, however, only runaway leaders Leicester City have beaten Middlesbrough in the Championship in their last eight outings.

Worryingly for Aitor Karanka, the goals seem to have dried up a little for his side, with just one coming in their last three matches.

However, on a more positive note, the visitors' away form has improved recently, with a 2-0 defeat to Leicester being their only loss on their travels in five games having gone nine games without an away win before that.

A win by a big enough margin, coupled with other results going their way, could see Middlesbrough rise as high as seventh in the table and would give their playoff hopes a massive boost.

Jonathan Woodgate is once again out for Boro, who will also be missing Rhys Williams for the rest of the season, but Kei Kamara could start for the first time since returning from injury.

Recent form

Doncaster: LLLWDW

Middlesbrough: DLWWLD

Possible starting lineups

Doncaster: Turnbull; Tamas, Khumalo, Meite, Husband; Duffy, Keegan, Wellens, Coppinger; Sharp, Brown

Middlesbrough: Given; Varga, Gibson, Ayala, Friend; Leadbitter, Whitehead; Carayol, Emnes, Ledesma; Kamara

Sports Mole says: 1-1

New manager of Wigan Athletic, Uwe Rosler, looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic at Hillsborough Stadium on December 18, 2013
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