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Leicester City vs. Middlesbrough

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Preview: Leicester vs Middlesbrough

Leicester head into their final league match of the season against Middlesbrough safe in the knowledge that a play-off place is already guaranteed.

Victory at Preston last weekend made sure that Nigel Pearson's side will definitely be a part of this season's play-off battle, where they will most likely face Cardiff City in the first leg next weekend.

Despite the almost meaningless result of the game there is still significant relevance as Leicester could welcome back striker Matty Fryatt for the first time since February after a broken jaw threatened to de-rail City's promotion hopes.

Middlesbrough's own hopes of a top six finish have been dashed over the last month, condemning them to at least another season in the Championship under Gordon Strachan.

Strachan's side currently lie 8th in the table after last weekend's 1-1 draw with Coventry, but will feel disappointed with the way their season has turned out after relegation from the top flight last season.

Gareth Southgate was sacked as manager earlier in the campaign in odd circumstances after victory against Derby which took 'Boro to within a point of then leaders West Brom back in October.

Since then their season has spiralled into mediocrity, the club now having to fight hard this summer to keep prize assets such as midfielder Gary O'Neil.

When the two sides met in the reverse fixture at the Riverside back in September in was Lloyd Dyer who grabbed a late winner to take home all three points for City on the night.

Vital Quotes:

Middlesbrough manager Gordon Strachan: 'Leicester know they're going to be there and we know we're not going to be there. It could be a cracking game and it could be a dull game, it's hard to tell at this time of year.

'Nigel Pearson has done a smashing job there. He has brought in some experienced players and some loan players. He should be pleased with what he's done there.'

Leicester City Team News:

Leicester could welcome back Matty Fryatt for the first time since February after the striker suffered a broken jaw against Doncaster.

Captain Matt Oakley has been struggling with an ankle injury of late, whilst fellow midfielder Richie Wellens could also sit the game out with a knock.

Pearson has already admitted that changes will be made, with Nicky Adams, Dany N'Guessan and Yann Kermorgant all pushing for starts.

Player to watch: James Vaughan

Likely to start with much to prove ahead of City's crucial play-off battle, Vaughan will be keen to get himself on the scoresheet to keep himself in manager Nigel Pearson's line of sight.

Since joining on loan from Everton Vaughan has done a decent job up front alongside Martyn Waghorn, but is yet to add to his one and only goal against QPR so far.

Middlesbrough Team News:

Defender Stephen McManus is doubtful after picking up a knee injury in training.

Jeremie Aliadiere and Julio Arca are also doubts with calf problems, but there will definitely be no place for Rhys Williams who has been ruled out with a pelvic injury.

Meanwhile Gary O'Neil has begun training again and could make Gordon Strachan's starting lineup.

Player to watch: David Wheater

Middlesbrough will struggle to hold onto their prize youth academy graduate after another fine season in the red shirt.

There should be no shortage of suitors for the 23-year-old centre back this summer, Wheater an almost ever-present for Strachan's side this campaign.

Match Facts & Stats

- Leicester's Andy King could make his 100th league appearance for the club.

- Similarly Jack Hobbs is looking for his 100th league appearances, whilst Richie Wellens his 400th.

- Leicester are looking for their fifth straight league victory.

- Middlesbrough have kept only one clean sheet in their last 16 away matches.

- No Championship clubs has fielded more players than 'Boro (38).

Match Prediction:

It's difficult to predict when there's little on the cards for both sides, but I think we can make this number five on the spin. Leicester 1-0 Middlesbrough.

Next Fixtures:

Sunday 9th May:

Leicester: Play-off semi-final first leg

The Journalist

Writer: JBFox Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday May 1 2010

Time: 3:00PM


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