Middlesbrough are likely to remain without first-choice goalkeeper Victor Valdes and playmaker Gaston Ramirez for Monday night's (8 May) difficult clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea. Steve Agnew is also set to make a late decision on the fitness of defender Daniel Ayala, while captain Grant Leadbitter and fellow midfielder Adlene Guedioura are now both back in contention.
"We've got Victor Valdes still struggling with a rib injury," Boro's caretaker boss informed reporters at his pre-match press conference. "Grant Leadbitter is back in training, as is Adlene Guedioura who had a groin strain. Gaston Ramirez has a pelvic problem, and we'll see tomorrow about Dani Ayala, who has an ankle injury."
Goal-shy 'Boro, currently six points adrift of safety, head to Stamford Bridge knowing that demotion straight back to the Championship will be confirmed if they suffer an 18th defeat of the season and rivals Hull City do not lose at home to already-relegated Sunderland on Saturday.
A draw would also be no use if the Tigers win, although Agnew insists his side are only focused on their fixture.
"We look no further forward than tomorrow's training session and preparing for Chelsea. They are top of the Premier League and they have fantastic players, but that's how tough this league is.
"Not only do they score goals, but they're very organised behind the ball. They have an unbelievable work ethic within that group of players. But we know what we have to do at Chelsea, and we go there with confidence. We're prepared to take on that challenge."
The form of Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers has provided a rare positive for Middlesbrough of late, with the versatile defender impressing since returning from a foot injury that kept him sidelined for almost two months. The 22-year-old, recently mentioned in connection with a possible move to Newcastle United, netted his first 'Boro goal in last weekend's 2-2 draw with Manchester City at the Riverside Stadium and an admiring Agnew remains coy on his future beyond the end of the season.
"He's been excellent," he said. "He's a top defender, but not only has he got great defensive qualities, he has a high level of technical ability. We've missed him [through injury]. He's versatile and can play at right-back or at centre-back. He's an Arsenal player so we will see what happens in the summer. But he's a very level-headed boy and until then he's enjoying playing his football with us."