Middlesbrough V Blackburn at The Riverside Stadium : Match Preview

23 December 2012 03:01
Middlesbrough V Blackburn - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Boro hit by bug

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray will run the rule over Nicky Bailey, Andre Bikey and Ishmael Miller ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Blackburn after they fell foul of the stomach bug that has swept through the squad.

The trio missed Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Leeds, while goalkeeper Jason Steele and striker Marvin Emnes played on despite suffering from the same illness.

Defender Rhys Williams has an outside chance of returning to the squad for the first time since damaging ankle ligaments in August. He has resumed light training.

Andy Halliday came off the bench against Leeds after recovering from a groin injury and could return to the starting XI.

Midfielders Julio Arca (toe) and Muzzy Carayol (knee) and striker Curtis Main (also knee) are close to returns from long-term injuries.

Blackburn manager Henning Berg expects to have captain Danny Murphy and club stalwart David Dunn among his midfield options for the game.

Murphy has not featured for Rovers since suffering a hamstring strain in the 1-1 derby draw against Burnley at the start of the month.

Dunn was an unused sub for that game and the 2-0 defeat to Blackpool last time out but last appeared in October's 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, where he laid on Grant Hanley's winner before suffering a calf injury.

Both men were pushing for inclusion against Brighton on Saturday and the torrential downpour that rendered the Ewood Park playing surface unplayable has given them extra time to reach full fitness.

Full-back Markus Olsson is available once more after being struck down by illness ahead of the Blackpool game, where Jake Kean was a surprise inclusion in place of Paul Robinson in goal.

Mauro Formica (foot) remains a doubt, while fellow winger Fabio Nunes and veteran striker Nuno Gomes (both hamstring) are sidelined.

Blackburn were top of the table when they lost their first game of the season to Boro at Ewood in September.

Steve Kean resigned as manager a week later and the pre-season promotion favourites have won just three times in 15 subsequent matches, including a solitary victory in nine since Berg's appointment.

Source: PA