Swansea City head to the Riverside Stadium this week for arguably their toughest away trip of the season so far as they face a Middlesbrough side who have won all four of their home games.
After making 7 changes for the midweek trip to Stoke City as well as four changes in the game before that against Nottingham Forest, it really is anyone’s guess as to who gets in Graham Potter’s starting eleven on Saturday.
He has a few welcomed selection headaches after some impressive performances at Stoke. Winger duo Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge did enough to keep their sides over the likes of McKay and Asoro while debutant George Byers also impressed on the left side of a midfield three and it would be good to see him deservedly keep his place. In midfield, Matt Grimes could soon be one of those ‘first names on the team-sheet’ after another good performance.
Surely Potter has to bring Oli McBurnie back into the starting eleven after we missed him at Stoke before he was brought on during the second half. We are one of, if not the lowest in the division for shots on goal and up against the best defence in the League, we’ll need all the firepower we’ve got.
On the injury front – with something of a crisis this week forcing Potter to making a number of changes – there’s better news for Tom Carroll and Jay Fulton who should be available again but it looks like both Leroy Fer and Bersant Celina will sit this one out despite hopes that they’d both return to face Middlesbrough.
Potter has been flexible with his line-ups this season and one of the most impressive things this season so far is how we’ve coped and played despite a lack of consistency with our starting elevens. The Swans boss has been forced into most of those changes due to injuries in recent weeks but he also needs to rotate in order to cope with the busy demands of the Championship. Both McBurnie and Rodon were rested at Stoke and are likely to return while Declan John came in for Martin Olsson against Nottingham Forest a week ago.
So it really is anyone’s guess what the line-up will be. You’ve got to consider fitness levels which we won’t know, the players that might suit playing a side like Middlesbrough and any late injuries. We’ll just go with the players that
Our Line-Up vs Middlesbrough
Roberts – van der Hoorn – Rodon – Olsson
Naughton – Fulton – Grimes
James – McBurnie – Byers
I think we look better balanced in a 4-2-3-1 with Celina behind McBurnie so I suppose the choice here is either putting George Byers or Yan Dhanda in there behind McBurnie or switching to a 4-3-3? We might need the defensive cover in midfield against a strong side at home like Middlesbrough but Potter always likes to have at least one pacey winger in the side to offer us a direct outball option on the counter attack.
George Byers did enough at Stoke to keep his place and while both Routledge and Dyers were also very good and it would be harsh on them getting dropped, James gets in over those two mainly for his pace. His final ball quality has been lacking but his pace has caused problems and his performance in general was arguably his best yet at Stoke.
Talking about Saturday’s game, Byers told the Official Site:
“It would mean everything for us to get a win this weekend,”
“We want to bounce back from our first away defeat. We were disappointed and we want to put things right by putting a dent in Middlesbrough’s home record.
“All the players are pushing each other for a starting place which makes us stronger. We will be going into Saturday’s game full of confidence and ready for that test.”
“We know Middlesbrough are a tough team and that they have done very well at home, but no-one is unbeatable. If we stick to our game-plan and play the way we know we can play, we will create chances and get goals.”
What would your line-up be vs Middlesbrough? Let us know in the comments below…