Boss gives team news, discusses Middlesbrough and importance of James McClean.
- Middlesbrough full of quality – Mackay.
- Don Cowie out but otherwise no new injury news.
- James McClean returns after two-match ban.
Latics manager Malky Mackay is looking for his side to repeat their heroics from last month’s 1-0 win at Norwich City when they travel to face promotion-chasing Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship on Good Friday.
Mackay’s side have won their last four games on the road with the success at Carrow Road coming after wins over Reading and Blackpool and before the crucial three points secured at Rotherham United.
And Mackay says the win in Norfolk can certainly be used as a benchmark against the Teessiders who are equally strong in every department.
“This weekend we’re playing against two of the best teams in the league [Middlesbrough and Derby County], that’s undoubted,” Mackay explained.
“Middlesbrough have done well this season and they’ve got quality throughout their team and in particular Lee Tomlin and Patrick Bamford have been on peoples’ lips for a while.
“We’ve got to make sure that we go there and give a good account of ourselves; hold no fear, but at the same time give them respect for what they’ve achieved this season.
“We need to go there and give a similar performance to the one we gave at Norwich and I know Aitor Karanka won’t be taking us lightly; they need every point they can get right now, as do we.”
Latics face two games in four days as Steve McClaren’s Derby County side travel to the DW Stadium on Easter Monday, following a two-week international break.
And, though the break has allowed Mackay and his staff to prepare in detail for the fixtures, the Scot has been without several players who have been away representing their countries, including James McClean who has missed our last two fixtures due to suspension.
And Mackay is delighted to welcome the Irish forward back, a player he believes has been one of his best since he arrived at the club.
“James has been one of my best players since I arrived at the football club and over the last couple of games we’ve lost his pace and lost his firepower as well so it will be good to get him back into the fold,” he added.
“We’ve had lots of time to prepare for these games in terms of the coaching staff and the preparations we make; obviously we’ve not had two weeks in terms of preparation with the playing staff as quite a few have been away.
“From my point of view, I have to focus solely on Middlesbrough now and then, the minute the game has finished, we’ll look at the players’ recovery right away so that they’re available come 3pm Monday.”
In terms of his squad, Mackay remains without longer-term absentees Emyr Huws, Grant Holt and Juan Carlos Garcia whilst Don Cowie will also miss the Easter weekend of fixtures.
“We’ve got a couple of knocks at the moment; Don Cowie has taken a nasty fall in training on a knee injury he’s previously had and will be out for two or three weeks unfortunately and that’s just one of these things that happens.
“Everyone else should be OK, all being well with the international players.”