The two sides will meet for the first time since last season’s play-off semi final, live on talkSPORT 2
Middlesbrough and Aston Villa will meet for the first time since the Championship Play-Off semi final last season, in a game you can hear live on talkSPORT 2 from 5.30pm.
Mile Jedinak’s goal at the Riverside proved to be the decider as Villa went on to face Fulham at Wembley last campaign, falling short at the final hurdle.
It’s all change at Villa Park since then, with Dean Smith replacing Steve Bruce in a bid to lead the Villans back to the Premier League.
For Tony Pulis’ men, it is business as usual with the automatic Play-Off places in their sights.
What the managers are saying
Tony Pulis (Middlesbrough manager): “Those games don’t come round very often and they’re a good side Villa, especially when you see what they’ve got up front.
“I expect them to be there or thereabouts at the end.
“I was delighted to see Dean (Smith) get the job having down well in the lower leagues with Walsall and Brentford,” he added. “It’s a great reward for him and I’m sure he’ll do well there.”
Dean Smith (Aston Villa manager): “Middlesbrough have already started the season really well, with the most clean sheets in the league. They’ve got a great defensive record.
“We always expected them to be up in the top two or top six. That’s proven to be so far.
“I know Tony Pulis well and he’s got another team up there and challenging to get to the Premier League.
“It’s going to be a real tough test for us, but it’s one I’m looking forward to – that’s for sure.”
Middlesbrough striker Rudy Gestede has been ruled out of his former club Aston Villa’s visit to the Riverside Stadium because of a hamstring injury.
Gestede was taken off during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Preston as was Lewis Wing, who faces a late fitness test.
Visitors Villa are weighing up whether to risk John McGinn (calf), who played in the midweek 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest despite not being fully fit.
Alan Hutton is suspended while Albert Adomah is out with an ankle injury.