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Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Queens Park Rangers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Queens Park Rangers, including team news and predicted lineups.

Middlesbrough will aim to continue their bid to stave off relegation when they welcome Queens Park Rangers to the Riverside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

QPR are not in any real danger of being dragged into a scrap for survival, but they will no doubt be looking over their shoulder following a three-game losing streak since the Championship resumed.

Match preview

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured on June 27, 2020© Reuters

Neil Warnock endeared himself to the Middlesbrough faithful in perfect fashion with victory over Stoke City last weekend, but the Boro manager was quickly brought crashing back down to earth with an agonising late defeat to fellow strugglers Hull City in midweek.

Mallik Wilks won the game for the Tigers in injury time as Boro succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against their relegation rivals, and the result allowed Hull to leapfrog their opponents in the Championship table and leave Boro fighting for their lives with six games remaining.

Warnock's men have accumulated 44 points from 40 games this term as they sit 21st in the table - only one point above Stoke and three clear of Barnsley, who have been enjoying a decent run of form since the restart.

Warnock could hardly have been handed kinder opening fixtures against struggling Stoke and Hull outfits, but the Boro manager must now prepare for a quick turnaround as he returns to the side where he endured two separate spells in the dugout.

The 71-year-old will be hopeful of leading Boro to their first victory on home soil since the turn of the year, with the Yorkshire outfit having drawn five and lost three at the Riverside in all competitions during 2020.

QPR boss Mark Warburton on February 1, 2020© Reuters

Mark Warburton's QPR will also be looking to put things right when they lock horns with Boro on Sunday, as the London outfit are still searching for their first points since the second tier was given the go ahead to restart.

Indeed, the Rs suffered three consecutive defeats against Barnsley, Charlton Athletic and Fulham in the month of June and are now firmly out of the running for a top-six finish as the season draws to a close.

The coronavirus-enforced shutdown came at the worst time for a QPR side that enjoyed a six-game unbeaten run before the lockdown period, and Warburton's men now occupy 15th spot in the table - seven clear of the bottom three on 50 points.

With four of QPR's final six fixtures coming away from home, Warburton will be hoping to rectify his side's poor form on the road as soon as possible, with the R's only able to boast a measly one win from their last nine on their travels.

A Britt Assombalonga double salvaged a point for Boro when the sides last locked horns in November as the clubs played out a 2-2 draw at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.

Middlesbrough Championship form: LDWLWL

Queens Park Rangers Championship form: WDWLLL

Team News

Middlesbrough's Ashley Fletcher celebrates scoring their first goal against Barnsley on November 27, 2019© Reuters

Middlesbrough have no fresh injury problems heading into the clash with QPR.

The only concern for Warnock is the ankle injury keeping Daniel Ayala out of action, but other than that the veteran manager has a full selection of players from which to call upon this weekend.

There could be some changes in the final third for Boro, with Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier both pushing for starts having come off the bench last time out.

Meanwhile, QPR have no injury issues to contend with whatsoever at this moment in time.

Ilias Chair was forced to settle for a place amongst the substitutes last time out and could make the starting lineup for this one, but Warburton's men will have had a couple more days rest than Boro and there are not expected to be many changes to this QPR side.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Stojanovic; Spence, Fry, Friend, Johnson; McNair, Wing, Howson; Tavernier, Assombalonga, Coulson

Queens Park Rangers possible starting lineup:
Kelly, Kane, Barbet, Cameron, Manning; Ball, Amos; Samuel, Chair, Eze; Hugill

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We say: Middlesbrough 1-1 Queens Park Rangers

QPR did not perform all that badly against promotion-chasing Fulham, and they are now taking on Middlesbrough side facing problems of their own in the relegation battle. We are backing QPR to finally get some points on the board this weekend, although we expect it to be one rather than three for Warburton's men at the Riverside.

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Grant McCann in charge of Hull City on August 3, 2019
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