The main focus for Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday this season is the Premier League – Middlesbrough to try and maintain the place they earned in the top flight last season and Wednesday to try and get there after going so close back in May.
This Sunday however the two sides meet in the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup, both will be eager to progress but at the same time both are likely to rest players and give fringe players and opportunity.
Wednesday will be without Kieran Lee as the influential midfielder has undergone hip surgery which may rule him out for the remainder of the season.
Callum McManaman could be given more game time after making his Owls loan debut against Wolves and the likes of Jose Semedo, Almen Abdi, Atdhe Nuhiu and David Jones will be in contention to start. Joe Wildsmith could be in goal if Keiren Westwood is rested.
Middlesbrough are likely to include new striker Rudy Gestede in their squad but manager Aitor Karanka has stated that the former Aston Villa forward is unlikely to start the match. Viktor Fischer and Antonio Barragan have been ruled out and Fabio, Gaston Ramirez and Grant Leadbitter are carrying knocks which mean they are not expected to be risked.
Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes has been told he can leave if he wants and the club receive an attractive offer. Rhodes is an alleged transfer target of the Owls and so it will be interesting to see if he features.
Middlesbrough beat the Owls twice on their way to promotion last season and Wednesday have not beaten Premier League opposition in the F.A. Cup since they faced bitter rivals Sheffield United in the semi-finals in 1993.