Middlesbrough may have to cope without top scorer Patrick Bamford when they face Brentford in the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.
The Chelsea loanee, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season, played in Boro’s 2-1 first-leg victory at Griffin Park, but was far from his best as he continues to struggle with an ankle problem.
“Patrick is an important player for us but he still has pain in his tendon,” said manager Aitor Karanka. “Of course, I hope he is okay to play but I won’t take a risk with him.”
Jelle Vossen gave Boro the lead at Brentford and it looked like Andre Gray’s equaliser would send the teams back to the Riverside Stadium level, until substitute Fernando Amorebieta’s deflected winner in stoppage time.
“All we can ask for is to go back with it in our hands,” said Boro midfielder Adam Clayton. “If we don’t lose then we win the tie.
“You don’t really know which way to go. Do you defend it or do you got for it? But I’m sure we’ll get out on the front foot like we did against Wolves and Norwich and get the next goal.
“It’s only half-time and the play-offs have done very cruel things to teams before so we’ve got to be right on our game against a very good Brentford team.
“It’s going to be a really tough game but hopefully we can get over the line.”
The other semi-final, between East Anglian rivals Norwich City and Ipswich Town, is finely poised after a 1-1 draw at Portman Road at the weekend.
Paul Anderson netted Ipswich’s equaliser that day, and the winger is relishing the opportunity of going to Carrow Road and fighting for a place at Wembley on May 25.
“We’re all looking forward to it, the occasion is massive for both sides,” he told the club’s official website. “The prize for both teams is to get to Wembley and that’s something we all want.
“I’ve dreamt about going there for years and I’ve turned down tickets in the past, because I always wanted to go when it was my turn – which I hope will be in a couple of weeks.
“That’s the aim but the main focus is on the second-leg at Norwich. It’s going to be a tough game, of course, but one we are all excited about and we can’t wait to get out there.”
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