Middlesbrough Preview - Away, Nov 5
WATFORD HEAD to the north east this weekend to entertain Championship surprise-package Middlesbrough.
Tony Mowbray appears to finally have shaken his side out the malaise they've been in since relegation and looks to have got them firing once more.
Currently situated in third, the Teesider's have had to cut their cloth accordingly this season with parachute payments now a thing of the past.
This has resulted in several high-profile departures, the likes of Andrew Taylor, Leroy Lita and Kris Boyd all leaving the Riverside and their hefty wage packets.
Incoming have been just a couple of players - French playmaker Malaury Martin and Nigerian forwrd, Bartholomew Ogbeche. The only loan additions have been Wolves' 'keeper Carl Ikeme and Manchester City youngster, Alex Nimely.
Other than those four new faces Mowbray has elected to keep faith with the same players he was beginning to get a reaction from last season, placing faith in a number of youngsters along the way.
Under 'Mogga's' management, the famed Middlesbrough youth academy has seen it's graduates make it onto the first-team scene once more with the likes of Andy Halliday, Richard Smallwood and Joe Bennett all featuring heavily.
Midfield schemer's Halliday and Smallwood both made their breakthrough's last season albeit Halliday made his on-loan with Livingstone.
Smallwood on the other hand featured 12 times for Boro pushing aside more experienced heads in the process. This season has been slightly slower with just one league appearance but he's been a regular in the Carling Cup.
At the back Bennett has become a mainstay of the side, taking over from former Hornet, Taylor. The 21 year-old left-back has now amassed 52 league starts for the club having debuted as 'Boro were relegated in 2009.
Taylor is now and England U21 international to boot, having won three caps this year.
owbray will be without defender Justin Hoytr (hamstring), whilst Nicky Bailey is a doubt (calf). Scottish international Kevin Thomson (hamstring) is also unavailable.
Sean Dyche is also without a number of players, including Martin Taylor, Stephen McGinn and Craig Beattie. John Eustace and Lloyd Doyley could return but it would seem foolish to meddle with a winning side.
'Boro are yet to lose at home so far this campaign - there's something to target live on the box...
Middlesbrough: Steele; McMahon, Bates (c), McManus, Bennett; Haroun, Williams, Robson, Arca; Emnes and McDonald.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa (c), Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Hogg, Buaben, Forsyth; Iwelumo and Sordell.
Match Officials: (R) Mr J Waugh (AR's) Mr R Clark & Mr D Storrie (4th) Mr C Boyeson