Middlesbrough boss delivers Sunderland and Michael Beale verdict and confirms injury setbacks

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick looks ahead to Sunday's match against Sunderland at the Riverside Stadium.
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Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick says Sunderland have a hugely-talented team and doesn’t think October’s reverse fixture will have any bearing on this weekend’s match

The Black Cats were beaten 4-0 at the Stadium of Light earlier this season, after Dan Neil was controversially sent off just before half-time. Sunderland are three points ahead of Middlesbrough ahead of Sunday’s match, with both sides targeting a play-off place.

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When asked about Sunderland and head coach Michael Beale, Carrick said: “Obviously they’ve got good players, a lot of younger players and are a hugely-talented team. You can see he’s come in and tweaked a couple of things, changed a couple of things as you’d expect. I’ve watched a number of their games now, it was a big result for them last week and they played really well. We know what we’re up against for sure so it will be a big test.”

On the importance of the game, with both clubs targeting a top-six finish, Carrick added: “There’s an importance to it. It’s key in terms of setting us up for the next little bit, giving us a chance to get three points. If we can take three points off them, just as they’ll be looking to do the same with us.

“Will that tell the whole story of the season? No, it’s not going to be a make or break game in terms of the rest of the season but it will definitely give us a boost if we can put the right performance in and get the right result.”

Carrick also confirmed full-back Alex Bangura (hamstring), winger Isaiah Jones (hamstring), striker Emmanuel Latte Lath (ankle) and goalkeeper Seny Dieng (thigh) all remain sidelined with injuries.