Two big fitness worries for Middlesbrough ahead of Norwich City clash

Middlesbrough striker Patrick Bamford. Picture: PA

Middlesbrough striker Patrick Bamford. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is sweating on the fitness of two key players ahead of their Championship play-off final showdown against Norwich City.

Star striker Patrick Bamford and young defender Ben Gibson have both been nursing injuries taking very little part in training this week.

Bamford is still struggling with the ankle injury sustained against the Canaries during Boro's 1-0 win at Carrow Road last month although Karanka is hopeful Gibson will return to training before the end of the week.

'Patrick (Bamford) didn't train with us (on Monday and Tuesday) and neither did Gibbo,' Karanka said. 'But I think he'll be fit on Thursday.

'We had two days off after the Brentford game, then on Monday and Tuesday we worked but without a lot of the tactical things.

'I didn't want to put pressure on the players.

'We had Tuesday off and then we start to prepare for the game.'

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Bamford, who scored against City in the clubs' first meeting in the league this season, appears to be the biggest concern with the club's top goalscorer missing the second leg of his side's semi-final win over Brentford.

Judging by Norwich and Boro's meetings previously this season, the Teessiders are favourites following a 4-0 win at the Riverside and the 1-0 win in Norfolk.

However, Karanka doesn't consider his side to have a psychological edge over the Canaries.

'I don't think (we're favourites) because the two games weren't a good reflection,' Karanka said.

'At the beginning of the season they weren't in a good way, and in the game we played there they had chances and we defended for 60 minutes.

'If you look at their squad, they've played the last three seasons in the Premier League.

'So we're not favourites, but we go there to fight against a very good team.'