Aston Villa v Middlesbrough preview: Championship play-off semi-final second leg live on Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 15/05/18 7:52pm
Defender Ahmed Elmohamady is a major doubt for Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce as his side bid to secure a Championship play-off final berth on Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old limped off with a muscular injury in Villa's 1-0 first-leg triumph over Middlesbrough on Saturday evening and looks certain to miss out for the return fixture at Villa Park.
James Bree is likely to come in for the right-back, while Alan Hutton impressed at the Riverside Stadium and could continue to deputise for Neil Taylor (hamstring) on the opposite flank. Jed Steer (shoulder), Axel Tuanzebe (foot) and Andre Green are also unlikely to make the squad.
Latest EFL odds
Check out all the latest Sky Bet EFL odds ahead of the 2017/18 play-offs right here...
Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of a defender of his own; Dani Ayala was substituted with 64 minutes on the clock after taking a blow to his knee on Saturday and his involvement hinges on the results of a scan he underwent on Monday morning.
Aside from Ayala, the sole absentee will be Rudy Gestede (ankle), leaving Boro with a strong squad as they look to overturn the slender disadvantage and return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The home team has failed to win any of the last 12 clashes between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa in all competitions, with the Villans being the last side to secure a home victory, in March 2005 in the Premier League (2-0).
None of the previous 15 second tier teams to win the first leg of a play-off semi-final (current format) away from home have failed to reach the final, with only six of those teams winning promotion.
In the 1987-88 season, Middlesbrough lost their first leg match in the play-off semi-final versus Bradford but still progressed to the final, earning promotion over two legs and relegating top-flight Chelsea in the process.
Aston Villa have lost only one of their last 10 home games at Villa Park, winning seven and drawing two.
Middlesbrough have won just two of their last nine away games, although four of those have ended level (L3).
The Boro have won four and lost just one of their last eight away games against Aston Villa in all competitions (D3).
Jack Grealish assisted the only goal of the game in the first leg on Saturday - since his return to the side in November, only Robert Snodgrass (12) has provided more assists for the Villans than Grealish (6).
Albert Adomah has had a hand in four goals in his last five league and play-offs appearances against Middlesbrough (two goals, two assists), although failed to score and assist last time out.
Steve Bruce has lost only one of his last seven play-off games as a manager (W4 D2).
Tony Pulis has only won two of his previous nine away games against Aston Villa as a manager, although those wins have come in the last four trips (D4 L3).
Middlesbrough were awfully flat on Saturday which was a bit of a surprise. Aston Villa defended extremely well but it wasn't exactly as though they were under total siege and they fully deserved the win.
Tony Pulis will rally his side for the trip on Tuesday night and I think they could push Villa really close. It will be a tight game that's likely to be decided by the first goal, but I fancy Villa to edge through with a draw.
David Prutton predicts: 1-1 and Aston Villa to progress 2-1 on aggregate (9/2 with Sky Bet)