Bolton Wanderers fans were unusally full of optimism following the 0-0 draw with Derby County, but were brought back down to earth by the midweek cup defeat to Burton Albion and the news that Tim Ream is on the verge of being sold to Fulham or Queens Park Rangers.
The dreaded injury curse has already rolled into town for Bolton, with captain Darren Pratley ruled out for three weeks and Liam Trotter sidelined with a hamstring injury, while Max Clayton and former 'Boro man David Wheater are still at least a few weeks away from fitness.
Wanderers face a tough test against Middlesbrough, who drew 0-0 at Preston last week but enjoyed a positive 3-1 win over Oldham Athletic in midweek - in which new signing Christian Stuani scored twice. The hosts are renowned for having a solid defence, but have just added extra strength to their attacking options with the signing of David Nugent, who scored 20 league goals in firing Leicester City to the Premier League two seasons ago.
In preparation for the match Neil Lennon hinted he'd be taking a more defensive approach, but I don't think any of us expected him to drop Zach Clough and Gary Madine. Josh Vela replaces Pratley, while Emile Heskey comes in for Madine alongside Liam Feeney in attack and Mark Davies captains the side as he comes in to play in the hole behind them. Rob Holding makes his first league start for the club after impressing against Burton, and we expect him to fill in at right-back in place of Lawrie Wilson.
Boro line up in their familiar 4-5-1 formation as Kike leads the line, with both Stuani and Nugent on the bench. Stewart Downing will likely be the creative force from midfield, with Albert Adomah the danger man to watch on the wing.
Here are today's starting lineups:
Substitutes: Tomas Mejias, Jack Stephens, James Husband, Dael Fry, Christian Stuani, Adam Forshaw, David Nugent
Substitutes:Ross Fitzsimmons, Zach Clough, Gary Madine, Stephen Dobbie, Filip Twardzik, Tom Walker, Lawrie Wilson
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