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Boro v Coventry
 

Boro v Coventry

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Happy New Year.

After Boro found a way past a disciplined Huddersfield in a low quality affair on Friday night, the next test is the in-form Coventry City at the Riverside on Monday, kick-off 3pm.

Three points away from home is always a good result, especially after Boro had somehow failed to score – and win – against Rotherham three days previously, but this was not a vintage performance. Sloppy passing was the consistent symptom throughout of a side that looked cautious and fatigued in difficult conditions. Boro are, of course, missing a whole host of first team players with squad members like Barlaser, Rogers and Silvera having to step up on a twice weekly basis – in Silvera’s case out of position too – and it shows.

And yet, though Glover had one rush of blood that somehow cost us neither a goal nor a red card as he rushed out to slide tackle the breaking Josh Koroma but did such a bad job that he got nowhere near ball nor man, Boro still had the two best chances of the game. How Isaiah Jones missed an open goal from less than two yards out even he doesn’t know, whilst Jonny Howson missed an 84th minute penalty (albeit an excellent save rather than a “miss”) just prior to his euphoric winner. The winning goal and the trajectory of the ball as it went down then up and over then down into the goal again, seemed fitting for a scruffy game played in driving rain with tired legs on both sides.

Thankfully, especially for poor Isaiah, the three points is likely all we’ll remember from this game in time.

Now the focus turns to Coventry, the side we seemed to play 64 times in a row at the back end of last season.

Much Teesside attention has been on Boro’s loss of key players over the summer but Mark Robins’ Sky Blues may well feel the same as dynamic dual threat Gutavo Hamer and Viktor Gyökeres departed for Sheffield United and Sporting Lisbon respectively for a total in the region of £32m. As permanent players rather than the loanees Boro lost, Coventry were able to reinvest in replacements and did so with Ellis Simms and Haji Wright for around half the fees received. American Wright is the club’s top scorer with 7 goals, whilst Simms has returned just 3.

The numbers may not excite but Coventry are third in the form tables over the last 6 and last 10 games, with only promotion favourites Leicester and Southampton ahead of them. Like ourselves, the hangover from the playoffs and the squad turnover led to a shocking start to the season with just one win in their first eight games. Who did they beat? Of course, it was Boro, as they battered us 3-0 in the second game of the season,

Now, they have lost just once – to the seemingly unstoppable Ipswich – since early November, conceding just six goals in nine games. As well as Ipswich, that run has included fixtures against Southampton, Leeds and Sunderland, so this really is a side back on top of their game.

For the moment, however, they sit 12th in the Championship, two points behind Boro and five off the playoffs.

At this more-or-less midway point of the season, it’s a reasonable time to check the xG charts and see what we can glean. Boro have an xG of 1.57/game, meaning the volume and quality of chances we’ve created should equate to around 39 goals from our 25 played. We’ve actually scored 37 so only a very slight underperformance. Jones’ air-shot at Huddersfield will likely have counted for 0.99 xG so there’s one that got away, whilst we certainly left a few out there at Rotherham.

Our xGC is 1.27 – around 32 goals conceded – whilst we’ve actually conceded 36, so we’ve perhaps been a touch unlucky with some of the goals conceded.

Overall, that places us 6th for xG and 7th for xGC – decent numbers that suggest we’re performing at just about playoff level overall.

For Coventry, it’s 1.41 xG (11th) and 1.34 xGC (13th). The tallies nicely with their league position overall but the recent form suggests the numbers are on the up.

Incidentally, as this is the last game of the calendar year, Diasborians may be interested to know that Boro have accrued more Championship points than any other side in 2023 – 66 of them – ahead of West Brom (63) and Coventry (58). Of course, these stats are weighted in favour of teams who have spent the entire year in the division.

How Boro will line up for this game is tough to say, with Djiksteel seemingly added to the long injury list and Crooks a mysterious absentee last time out. That could mean a return to right-back for the impressive Rav van den Berg, with Matt Clarke restored at centre-back. Riley McGree has made a succession of promising substitute appearances as he gradually recovers from his own lengthy layoff and perhaps now will be the time for a start, whilst Josh Coburn made a big difference from the bench at Huddersfield and hopefully is ready to play from the off.

Carrick made a highly unusual change to a back three in the second half at Huddersfield and has enough fit players to do so again with Jones reprising his right wingback role from the Chris Wilder days. A 3-4-3 could be an option this time out but is perhaps more likely to be a rare Plan B.

So, Boro look thin on squad numbers and a little tired of late and now face a Coventry side in confident mood. This ought to be a tougher test than Rotherham and Huddersfield but Boro have shown that they can raise their game at The Riverside, as evidenced against Leicester and West Brom.

A draw wouldn’t be a bad result at all but a win would have us knocking on the door for those coveted playoff places.

Over to you, Diasborians, and a Happy New Year.

This topic was modified 4 months ago 2 times by Andy R

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Thanks Andy, another excellent opener.  Will McGree be available? Isn’t he and Silvera off to Australia before the Coventry game? 😎


   
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Andy 

Great stuff as always 

Appreciate your hard work as I know how busy you are at work at present 

Many thanks 

OFB


   
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Topic starter  

@k-p-in-spain 

I thought they had one more game but you might well be right!


   
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@k-p-in-spain 

quote

 

The  game at Huddersfield is the last time Riley McGree and Sammy Silvera will be involved for Boro before they link up with the Australia squad on January 1 ahead of the Asian Cup. And Boro are also set to lose Seny Dieng who is part of Senegal's squad for the African Cup of Nations.

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OFB


   
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jarkko
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@andy-r thanks for the excellent starter. As enjoyable as ever.

Re: McGree debate

The Echo wrote today that Sammy Silvera, who has started as the central forward for the last three league games, is linking up with the Australia squad on Monday ahead of the Asian Cup, while Matt Crooks and Emmanuel Latte Lath were both missing at Huddersfield because of injury.

I was wishing we could see McGree starting a game before departing. But if he needs to be in Australia on Monday,  he won't be seen at Riverside. But I am sure our Aussie department can confirm this, when they wake up.

Up the Boro! 


   
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@jarkko 

The Socceroos leave for Abu Dhabi  on January 1 for a pre-tournament camp before the tournament starts on 12th January so no Mcgree or Silvera on Monday. 


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Thank you Andy for the New Years Day preview. Good stuff.

Can we put out a team that can get any result against a top inform side? Will MC consider a tactical change to his normal plan A?

A very difficult game considering the limited choice of players. We will need some better performance, from one or two players.

A draw and I would be happy.

This post was modified 4 months ago by Pedro de Espana

   
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A typical Andy opener: very well written, comprehensive coverage of the next game, and full of good sense and sound judgment. You would be hard put to find a full-time journalist capable of producing anything as good.

A fragmented, patched up and tired squad together with a punishing fixture list over the next 6-8 weeks suggests to me that we should probably recalibrate our expectations and put any play-off aspirations on ice for the time being

This period will be all about scrapping for every point that we can accumulate and keeping our head above water as best we can. 

I hope that all of our supporters will do their best to help us get through to March by tempering any disappointment they may feel with large helpings of understanding of the formidable obstacles facing both the team and the coaching staff.

I'll be hoping for the best against Coventry, fearing the worst, but cheering the lads on whatever the result.

One small post-script to the Huddersfield game: I trust that Woodgate and Carrick will nip in the bud Bangura's penchant for grabbing hold of the ball after he thinks he has been fouled. 

This generally follows a situation in which the full-back uses his body to shield the ball and then falls over on receiving the slightest touch.

This is one of the manoeuvres that officials were clamping down on at the beginning of the season, but have become less alert to as the season has worn on.

Against Huddersfield, alongside his well-deserved booking for diving (ie cheating), Bangura fell over and grabbed the ball 3 times.

One of those occasions was inside the penalty area and could have had potentially game-changing consequences.

Another resulted in an unnecessary injury to Bangura when the Huddersfield man stepped on his arm as he stretched it out to reach the ball.

The lad, who had a good game, would be well advised to let the ref make the decisions. Preempting them in the way he does at the moment will earn him a booking and possibly far worse if and when the ref disagrees.

Happy New Year to all Diasborians and every success to Michael and the lads in 2024

 


Clive Hurren
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An excellent starter, Andy, thank you. And as Len says, it’s very much of the high standard we’ve come to expect from you, especially your analysis of the two teams’ relative strengths. 

By my reckoning, Boro have 3.5 first-team fit forwards available for tomorrow - Coburn (the 0.5), Jones, Greenwood and Rogers, unless Crooks and Latte Lath make surprising recoveries. Further back, we’re no better off, with Dieng, O’Brien, Smith, Lenihan, and potentially Hackney and Dijksteel all unavailable. Heaven knows who MC will have on the subs’ bench. There will be some very tired legs out there. Heaven knows how Jonny Howson is keeping going! In the circumstances, a Boro win would be miraculous, so, again, I’ll settle for a point. 

I’d be tempted to play Bangura at left back and Engel in front of him further forward. It worked at Port Vale, though with the respective positions reversed. 

 


 gt
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Happy New Year everyone, keep the faith.

Any Rumours?


   
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@lenmasterman.  Another of your excellent posts Len, thank you.

One of your paragraphs sums it up succinctly for all Boro supporters whether they be of either the negative or positive persuasion. 

I'll be hoping for the best against Coventry, fearing the worst, but cheering the lads on whatever the result.”

Hopefully, after a difficult start to the season, things can only get better and the end of the 2023/2024 season will prove more bearable than the 2022/2023 season did!

Happy New Year one and all. 😎

 


   
Liked by 4 people: jarkko, Selwynoz, Powmill-Naemore and lenmasterman
 
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Dedicated to all of us codgers who think we can still do better than the professionals.  

 

https://twitter.com/ThatsSoVillage/status/1635019769744351232


Pedro de Espana
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 A HEALTHY AND PEACEFUL 2024 TO ONE AND ALL THE WORLD OVER.

As for MFC and our Boro squad, one hopes for less injuries, and couple of very useful loan signings arriving during the next week.  😀

 


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Happy New Year to all of you and I am raising my glass here to all our absent friends 🥂

 


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That was a really good starter by Andy R and a cracking post by Len Masterman.  I suspect BORO will do well to get a point, even at home, but predicting BORO'S results is a thankless (almost impossible) task.

I still haven't gone to bed after watching the New Year fireworks from London and the singers are still singing on TV, but if later today OFB posts another "BORO 3" prediction I think we can all be satisfied he has celebrated the New Year particularly hard and long this time. In that case, I'll just have what he's been drinking.

Best Wishes to all on here for a MUCH better year in 2024 than 2023 was. Let's try to look to the positive. 


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@lenmasterman - Great video clip. Maybe I retired from social cricket too early.

   
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A Happy New Year to everyone, although at the time of writing this most of you will be in bed with the prospect of a fuzzy brain in a few hours time to look forward to, there again some hardy souls might still be going strong, best of luck.

I might be at odds with others forecast of events this afternoon at the Riverside, because despite my dummy spit after the Rotherham game, and then witnessing Jones demonstrate how not to break the back of the net from all of a yard, I'm expecting three points today.  Some have mourned the loss of players due to international commitments on top of the cast of Holby City, but let's look at the players mentioned that we're losing.

Seny Dieng for starters, if I'm honest I've not been disappointed with Glover since he became our drop in gloveman, so Dieng flying off doesn't really concern me, but Glover getting injured, however, does.  More of the same please, and providing the red mist doesn't descend making him attempt to cripple the opposing centre forward just short of the half way line, I'm happy for him to continue.

Sammy Silvera is a live wire and gives 100% every time he's out on the pitch, but he hasn't exactly had the tabloids throwing headlines out there regarding his performances or scoring rate.  Even if Josh Coburn is 75% fit and playing him doesn't hamper his recovery in any way, his name would be on the team sheet well before Silvera's.  So is Sammy a great loss?  Well, no disrespect to him but, not in my book he isn't.

Riley McGree's departure alongside his Aussie team mate doesn't increase my anxiety level one iota either, to be honest we've played most of our games this season without him and never really got him back playing before he left, so we're at a status quo as far as he's concerned.  Don't get me wrong if fit and available, unlike the other two mentioned McGree wouldn't have to fight to get his place back in the team, he's a shoe-in.  We've muddled on throughout his injury and we'll have to continue to do so for a different reason for a while yet, hopefully, though, he comes back fitter and match ready than before he left.

So, in my extremely humble opinion we're no worse off with the departing world beaters pulling on their respective country's shirts instead of ours, but sadly at the same time no better off either.  With the return of a few of the wheelchair bound and possibly some very well chosen beg, steal or borrow players in the January window, there should be signs of improvement and all starting today with Coventry.

I was just about to delete everything above when the nurse, bless her, arrived to give me my next round of medication, all is now good in the Boro world of 2024 and will remain so providing she comes back with my next round later on in the day, hopefully just before kick off.


jarkko
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Happy New Year to all Boro fans.

Finally we have an old fashioned (pre Global Warming) proper winter. We have nearly -20 degrees here on the South Coast of Finland. And a nice amount of snow. Like when I was kid.

It will get colder this week - possibly a bit below - 20 in the South, in the middle of the country and the North it can go as low as -40 for a couple of days. Luckily we are prepared for this - all is working as normal, busses are not late, etc. And naturally the reason why we play football as a summer sport!

I will drive to see my doughter, work there in her new apartment she bought last week. And then back home to the fire place, watch the Boro match. Even possible to heat up the sauna at home. Everybody over here have at least one sauna in every family - some have two like all my three brothers, like.

I hope we get at least a point against in-form Coventry - I really believe in Carrick. He is a super manager and know what we need. I predict a 2-0 win with Rogers and Jones scoring. Up the Boro!


Pedro de Espana
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@peasepudinperth    I certainly would not disagree with your view of the player losses. The overriding issue is three less in the total squad to choose from.

As for McGree, as much as I like him, I still think there was an issue at the beginning of the season with him. If he had not been picked for Australia, then I would have not been surprised  at him leaving MFC during this window. 

On a positive note, one of the fringe players may just step up as did HH.


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@Pedro McGree hasn't been a choice of any kind over the last few months so I'd mark him down as an affordable loss, I made my concerns regarding Glover earlier and a toss up between Silvera and a fringe doesn't really matter which way the coin falls as far as I'm concerned.  Not sure what issues McGree may have, but if I was him I'd bite my lip until I'd established myself as the first name on the team sheet.  He's still a project in progress, admittedly well on the way to completion, but if I was trying to get myself a plum role with a top club. plus a nice little wedge in my back pocket, I'd tow the line for the time being.


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Talking of the absentees during their sojourn to foreign climes to kick a ball about for someone else, what happens to their weekly eye watering salaries, are they suspended as I don't see why should be paying for a player that we can't play?


Powmill-Naemore
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My thanks to AndyR for another quality introduction to the next game. Extra especially because this one has come during one of those times of the year when family  and other social commitments dominate the calendar. So finding the time and the desire to research the fixture to create an accurate perspective is very definitely going above and beyond for the benefit of us all. 

I totally missed the Huddersfield game.

In my head I had us playing the Terriers on Saturday, not Friday. So having being away celebrating Christmas (again) with close friends at a remote location in Scotland, where the mobile phone network still struggles, I was surprised to get back into a more civilised part of the country on Saturday to see the match had already been played and we had won, despite what appears to have been quite a poor display from both teams.

In the Rotherham game we played well but got nothing. We then play not so well aganist Huddersfield and win all three points. To quote a famous former player turned pundit, "It's  a funny old game Saint". Our results confirm it certainly is. I suppose we are lucky this season that the top 3 or 4 teams aside, the rest of the dozen or so hopefuls for a play off berth have all shown as much inconsistency as we have. Despite all of our failings (especially in the last third) that have been bemoaned by most, we are still at the races.

If the past tells us anything about the future, then we have to expect one or more of the pack of clubs in touching distance of the playoff positions will surely put together a convincing run of good form between now and the end of the season. At the same time, we will be getting our injured players back playing and so regardless of any potential reinforcements coming in during the window, we can entertain a realistic hope to be one of those clubs.

If nothing else, our last three games have shown us how difficult it is to predict a result at the moment. I agree with Peasepudin(the other)Perth, that despite our wafer thin squad (now with added international absentees), we are not really any worse off going into the home game against Coventry than we were going into the home game against WBA, or either of the two following away fixtures. The only thing we can't be certain of before kick off is exactly which Boro is going to show up. What we do know though is that even with the limited resources to choose from, not only has MC been able to get a team out to play well, but also to do that most important thing of being able to grind out a good result even when you play relatively badly.

I think we have a great chance of finishing  today within 3 points of 5th, never mind 3 points off 6th. So I am going to stay optimistic about this one and through my New Year's morning haze predict a set back for Coventry, with Boro winning 2-1 in a very tight game.

CoB

This post was modified 4 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

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@peasepudinperth 

I agree with you, Pud, but ,as Pedro says, the problem we have is that with our Aussies and Dieng being added to an already longer list of absentees than I can ever remember we are asking the same small group of players to run themselves into the ground three times a week over the coming months.

Our game is highly dependant on the success of our high pressing and running off the ball. But when you send the same group of players to the well game after game, they will be carrying knocks, starting to burn themselves out, losing motivation and being less effective all round than they would have been when at their freshest.

The crowd starts to get impatient, and we can quickly move  into a downward spiral from which it is difficult to recover. And let's not forget that for coaches that spiral can be terminal these days after three or four consecutive defeats.

That's the problem. That's the difficulty. And that's why it is important for us, as supporters, to do what it says on the tin, and play our part in seeing our admirable small group of players and their coaches through what will possibly be a very tricky couple of months.

For example, Jones's miss at Huddersfield was the biggest of this or any other season.

But I cannot bring myself to publicly criticise a player who gave all he had to this as to every other game. He has been our best attacking outlet all season, runs for miles every game, and even last Tuesday he diid not hide or let his head drop, but was essential to our victory, covering, tackling, and blocking in an unfamiliar defensive role that kept Huddersfield's most potent attacking player well under control for most of the second half. 

Hats off to the lad as far as Im concerned.

UTB

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by lenmasterman

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@lenmasterman Len, I fully support the lads for their sterling efforts day in, day out during these telling times, and as for Jones' miss it was more akin to the link you posted to laugh at than to criticise.  I can't fault the lads work ethic either, and saying that I'm certain that nobody goes out there to toss it off for a quick and easy pay slip, although, no, don't go there.  We're no better or worse off than we have been over the last month, hence the lack of concern over the international absentees, but if we think for a second that the boat we're in is floating about on its own, then think again as other teams are aboard their own HMS Hospital ship.


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Very good and interesting posts / views from Len and PinP.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Jones, especially given his personal issues last season and also his undoubtable work rate. If only one or two others offered as much at times.

How the Football authorities have allowed, what are basically, Micky Mouse competitions to the majority of fans, to be played every TWO years when the established ones are every four years, beggars belief. 

In the EPL, Man City and Newcastle have bought well from the perspective, of not losing any players. Notts Forest on the other hand, have lost six players. Brentford and Wolves four each.

Forrest, one could say won’t have a problems with that, as they have a squad of about fifty players, haven’t they??  🤣

It would be interesting to know the losses in the Championship. We do know of course, as posted on this blog, that Ipswich’s midfield duo, turned their countries down. 


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@peasepudinperth - Fair comment.  I agree the only player of those going away on international duty** that we would miss, is Riley McGree.  And the reality is that in the last 2 or 3 months he has not been able to play (apart from a few recent late substitute roles) due to plantar fasciitis.  Hopefully he will come back from his international duties fully match-fit and enthusiastic to play for Boro for the rest of the season.  In which case he goes straight back into the team.

   ** Obviously if that means going to the 3rd choice keeper I might get a little nervous.

This post was modified 4 months ago by Forever Dormo

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Andy,

Many thanks for the opener which is, as always, quite excellent and I think this is an opportunity to thank all the Diasboreans who have made a such a massive contribution to the blog and the quality of the blog with their collective headline writing prowess. Thank you all of you, your efforts have at times helped hold my year together through some difficult patches.

This is going to be an important game that starts a period where Boro are riddled with injuries and absent players so it will be interesting to see where the next 'surprise' comes from amongst the youngsters. the coaches must be watching the 'youngsters' all the time so I'm certainly interest to see where the next talent will start to shine before before all the plasters and bandages are off the walking wounded.

As always no forecast just don't concede Boro, a bit of magic and conjuring up a win would be very nice. Bangura stop picking the ball up and Glover don't go for walks around the extremity of your penalty area.

A happy and healthy New Year to everyone.

All the best and UTB,

John


Philip of Huddersfield
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Predicting the result of Boro’s games is difficult. They played well against Hull particularly in the first half , should have won the game easily but lost, played well v West Brom and just got over the line, played average v Swansea and won,  played quite well v Rotherham and should have had a bag full of goals but somehow lost and , in their last game played not as well v Rotherham and won - just.

So, what of this afternoon?   Coventry started the season poorly like Boro having lost some key players but in recent weeks have quietly moved up the table. Over the last 6 games they are one of the in form teams. Their strength is that they lose very few games and have drawn a lot - a sign of missing their star striker.  They will be fancying their chances especially as they have proved to be a bogey team for Boro in recent years.

So Boro will need to be at their best .However, I’ll take a draw now and hope for a good performance.

Meanwhile there’s little info on injuries- what’s Hackney and McNair’s injuries and when might they return? Little news on O’Brien who was originally touted for a return in January.

Is this the worst season for the number of injuries?

Philip of Huddersfield 

ps hope everyone has a trouble free year 👋👍🤗


Pedro de Espana
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@philip-of-huddersfield.   

As usual, MFC keeping any news on injuries close to their chests. I guess the fans will only get to know a little more, when we see them sat on the bench.


   
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