Former Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes has urged Championship leaders Middlesbrough to ignore the hype surrounding their top-of-the-table clash with Burnley on Tuesday.
Boro visit Turf Moor on the back of six successive wins and with a two-point advantage over the Clarets with only four games remaining, so a victory in east Lancashire would bring a Barclays Premier League return firmly into focus.
Town have a vested interest in Boro going up, as Rhodes’ previous club Blackburn Rovers would be due an extra £2m on his transfer and Town would get 20% of that (a tidy £400,000).
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However, Rhodes, whose double at the Macron Stadium sunk Bolton on Saturday, does not want Aitor Karanka’s side to be distracted by the pre-match build-up to a contest that could go a long way to determining who ends up being crowned champions.
“Lots of people say it is the decider – they’re getting caught up with the hype, but we must keep calm,” said Rhodes.
“There’s lots to play for – in fact there are still 12 points to play for. But we have to just concentrate on ourselves at Turf Moor.”
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Like Burnley and Brighton, who are unbeaten in 19 and 10 games respectively, Boro appear to have hit form at just the right time, yet Rhodes insists they must maintain that standard with the chasing pack keeping the pressure on.
“There’s no room for complacency – there are still 12 points to play for,” he added.
“But the fact is we are only a few games away from having the chance to play some of the best players in the world in the Premier League.
“The club deserves to be up there and we appreciate what is at stake for us, the club and the fans.”
Brighton entertain QPR knowing they could move back into the top two if Burnley lose, while Hull and Derby travel to Reading and Bristol City respectively hoping to cement a spot in the play-offs.
Charlton will be relegated if they fail to beat bottom-of-the-table Bolton while MK Dons, who are nine points from safety ahead of a clash at Sheffield Wednesday, could also drop out of the division.