Wanderers will be hoping to start the New Year with a bang when they host Middlesbrough on Wednesday afternoon.
Entering the clash on the back of an incredible 5-3 defeat against Leicester last time out, the Whites will see New Year’s Day’s clash as one in which they can bounce back and bring themselves level on points with their opponents in the league standings.
With Boro heading to the North West on the back of three successive wins however and with last month’s 1-0 defeat at the Riverside still raw in the memory, it will certainly be a testing afternoon as Wanderers look to make the perfect start to the calendar year.
Manager Dougie Freedman has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash, with just long term absentees Stuart Holden, Adam Bogdan and Marc Tierney sidelined ahead of the visit of the Riverside outfit.
A team who have picked up a reputation for their unpredictability, Middlesbrough fans will be hoping that their side’s recent upturn in fortunes of late isn’t a false dawn in their push for promotion this term.
Having struggled for consistency since their relegation from the top flight back in 2009, Boro narrowly missed out on a play-off berth back in 2012 before slumping to a 16th place finish last season.
After beginning the current campaign in similar fashion and picking up just three wins in their opening 16 games, the club moved to replace manager Tony Mowbray with former Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka back in November.
With Boro ensuring that Karanka was given the perfect welcome to England with victory over the Whites at the Riverside Stadium four weeks ago, the team have since gone on to pick up ten points in their last six outings – a far cry from earlier on in the season.
Heading to the Reebok Stadium on the back of three consecutive victories over Reading, Burnley and Millwall, Wanderers will have to be on their game if they are to bring Boro’s fine form of late to an end.
A man who Wanderers are more than aware of with the midfielder having notched in the meeting between the two sides last month, Grant Leadbitter has proven himself invaluable to Boro since his move to the Riverside last summer.
Having made his name with Middlesbrough’s local rivals Sunderland in their academy and consequently their first team, Leadbitter spent seven years at the Stadium of Light, developing a reputation as a reliable figure in the centre of the park.
His exploits didn’t go unnoticed with Ipswich Town securing his signature in the summer of 2009 – a move which would prove to be a fruitful one as he scored 14 times in 126 appearances for the Tractor Boys in a three year stint in Suffolk.
Once his contract with Town came to an end last summer, Leadbitter signed a three year deal at the Riverside Stadium, with the 27-year-old now a crucial member of Boro’s first team set-up.
Christopher Sarginson will take charge of Wanderers’ clash with Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.
Based in Staffordshire, Sarginson last officiated a Bolton Wanderers game back in September 2012 when the Whites were defeated 3-1 by Hull City at the KC Stadium.
An experienced official with over eight years spent in the professional game, Sarginson has so far featured in 16 games this season across the Championship, League One and League Two, handing out 51 yellow and four red cards in the process.
Paul Kettlewell and Mark Jones will run the line, while Barry Gordon is the fourth official.