Huddersfield Town will have to be a lot sharper and smarter against Middlesbrough than they were against Sheffield Wednesday to spring a big Championship surprise.
While Town held their own for much of the derby against the Owls at the John Smith’s Stadium, they were eventually undone by Fernando Forestieri after failing to create many clear-cut chances themselves.
If Town are off the boil at the Riverside, then they will be taken to the cleaners by Jordan Rhodes, David Nugent and Co.
Middlesbrough have conceded only 25 goals all season and only six of those at home, which is why the bookmakers have them as 6/4 on favourites.
Town, the outsiders at 5/1, have scored only once in their last four visits to Middlesbrough and haven’t actually won on Teesside since New Year’s Day 1986, when they were still at Ayresome Park.
That shows the level of the task facing David Wagner’s side, and Town will have to find the level of pace, fluency and tempo which put Leeds United to the sword in the second half of the derby at Elland Road.
If Town are slow and sloppy with their passing, then Adam Clayton and his midfield mates will be all over them.
It seems certain Wagner will select Jamie Paterson following his impressive showing as a substitute last Saturday, while James Husband can’t play against his parent club, so a change is needed at left-back.
Will the manager go for Jason Davidson? Or might he consider switching Tommy Smith to left-back and playing Martin Cranie at No2 alongside Joel Lynch and skipper Mark Hudson?
Town will have to maintain concentration whoever fills those defensive shirts and, if they can frustrate Aitor Karanka’s side, then they have the ability to score.
Nahki Wells, Joe Lolley and Paterson will all get chances if Town probe positively around the Boro box – and shocks do occur.
I was there 30 years ago to see Joey Jones grab the only goal that New Year’s Day, which was also a surprise result.
And if Town can show the sort of spirit which Jones always played with, then they’ll give themselves a chance.