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Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Sheffield Wednesday - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday travel to Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon, looking for a win to keep their hopes of Championship survival alive.

The Owls could be relegated to League One if they lose at the Riverside and if other results go against them, while the hosts have nothing to play for heading into the final three matches of the season.


Match preview

Sheffield Wednesday's Josh Windass celebrates after scoring their first goal against Blackburn Rovers in the Championship on April 20, 2021© Reuters

In the absence of manager Darren Moore, who is suffering from pneumonia triggered by his contraction of coronavirus, Sheffield Wednesday claimed three crucial points on Tuesday night when they beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0 at Hillsborough.

A strike from Josh Windass in the 37th minute helped the Owls move to within four points of Derby County, who lost on the same evening against Preston North End and who Wednesday will face on the final day of the season.

The Owls now need at least two more wins from their final three games if they are to avoid dropping down to League One – a division they last competed in during the 2011-12 campaign – although they still have to rely on other results going in their favour.

Two of their final three matches are away from home, which is where they have struggled in recent weeks. Wednesday have lost eight of their last 10 away games in the Championship, conceding three or more goals in four of their last six on the road.

Victory on Saturday is vital and could move Moore's side up to 18th place, one point behind Derby if they were to lose at home to Birmingham City.

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured on November 7, 2020© Reuters

Unlike the Owls, Middlesbrough have nothing but a top-half finish to play for after a poor run of form which has seen them slip out of contention for a playoff spot.

A 2-0 victory in March against Preston North End moved Neil Warnock's side to within six points of the top six with eight matches left to play. However, they have accumulated just four points from six games since then, which now sees Boro 14 points behind Barnsley in sixth place.

Middlesbrough ended this poor spell with a 2-1 win away at Rotherham United on Wednesday, as strikes from George Saville and Chuba Akpom helped turn the game on its head after Angus MacDonald gave the hosts an early lead.

Warnock will now face a Sheffield Wednesday side who he has only beaten once in his seven meetings against them as a manager.

Middlesbrough are currently the only Championship side who have lost as many matches as they have won so far this season, but a victory on Saturday would see them claim their 18th victory this campaign and could move them as high as eighth in the table.

Middlesbrough Championship form:
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W

Sheffield Wednesday Championship form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W


Team News

Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga celebrates scoring against Derby County in the Championship on November 25, 2020© Reuters

Warnock has confirmed that strikers Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher have both played their last game for the club, with their contracts expiring at the end of this season.

Akpom, Duncan Watmore and Yannick Bolasie are set to lead the line for Middlesbrough in their final three matches as a result.

Boro are still expected be without Nathanial Mendez-Laing (thigh), Sam Morsy (knee), Dael Fry (calf), Marcus Browne (knee), Marcus Tavernier (hamstring) and Anfernee Dijksteel (ankle) through injury.

A back three of Paddy McNair, Grant Hall and Marc Bola is set to start once again for Warnock's side, with Marvin Johnson and Neeskens Kebano operating on the flanks.

For Sheffield Wednesday, interim manager Jamie Smith could name the same starting lineup that beat Blackburn on Wednesday.

Isaiah Brown and Elias Kachunga both missed the game in midweek due to illness, and Joost van Aken was also absent after picking up a knock in training. However, Smith has stated that all three are now in contention to feature this weekend.

Keiren Westwood appears to have won back the number one jersey from Joe Wildsmith and is set to start his fourth successive game.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; McNair, Hall, Bola; Kebano, Howson, Saville, Johnson; Watmore, Akpom, Bolasie

Sheffield Wednesday possible starting lineup:
Westwood; Hutchinson, Lees, Borner; Palmer, Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach; Windass, Harris; Rhodes


SM words green background

We say: Middlesbrough 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday have far more riding on Saturday's fixture than Middlesbrough and that necessity to win could push the Owls over the line. Indeed, we feel that the visitors will keep their hopes of survival alive and claim all three points against an out-of-form Boro outfit.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


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How you voted: Middlesbrough vs Sheff Weds

Middlesbrough
42.5%
Draw
22.5%
Sheffield Wednesday
35.0%
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