PAUL Ince is in the dugout at The Riverside tomorrow against the club he joined fourteen years ago this week.
The corresponding matches yielded eleven goals last term; Blackpool winning 4-1 at Bloomfield Road and Middlesbrough running out 4-2 winners in last season’s Boxing Day fixture.
Grant Leadbitter looks likely to play for the Teessiders after recovering from an knock picked up in his side’s win over Charlton last week. But Jason Steele faces a late fitness test after picking up an ankle injury in the same fixture, however Boro have signed veteran stopper Dimi Konstantopolous who is set to deputise should Steele be ruled out.
Tom Ince is serving the second game of his three match ban for the visitors. The manager’s son picked up the suspension for inappropriate behaviour in Blackpool’s Capitol One Cup defeat at Preston.
The two teams were inseparable last season, both teams finishing their campaign on 59 points. But Blackpool’s far superior goal difference meant they finished a place above their weekend opposition in 15th place.
Both Boro and Blackpool squeaked one-nil wins last week. Blackpool’s winner was their third goal already this season in the 87th minute or later; the injury time own goal joins the two they scored against Doncaster, the week previous, in the dying embers of the game.
Tomorrow’s referee, Trevor Kettle, is no stranger to bringing his cards out of his pocket. His last three games at championship games have yielded a whopping 30 cards, four of which have been red.
Kettle’s last Boro game was their trip to Portsmouth, which the visitors ran out 3-1 winners. He awarded both teams a penalty and sent off now Boro skipper Rhys Williams and handed out another ten yellow cards.
Blackpool’s last run in with Kettle was when they too ran out 3-1 winners, this time at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate. This will only be his ninth championship game since then.
Blackpool are visiting The Riverside this Saturday putting their 100% league record on the line, after victories against Doncaster and Barnsley. Middlesbrough are looking for only their fourth home, league win of the calendar year.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Richardson, Williams, Woodgate, Friend, Varga, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Adomah, Carayol, Jutkiewicz
Blackpool: Gilks, Broadfoot, MacKenzie, Cathcart, Robinson, Basham, Ferguson, Osbourne, Grant, Davies, Delfouneso
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