Preview: Swans v Middlesbrough
Having produced an excellent performance against Brentford in midweek, Swansea City will look to underline their progress under Graham Potter against promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough this afternoon (3pm).
The 3-0 triumph over the Bees ended a run of four defeats in all competitions and saw the Swans get the rewards that some of their fine recent displays had not yielded.
However, Middlesbrough are likely to pose a very different test to the Bees and they head to South Wales in desperate need of a result after dropping out of the play-off places thanks to a run of five-straight defeats. The visitors last lost six in a row the best part of two decades ago in November 2000.
The reverse fixture at the Riverside ended goalless and goals are unlikely to come easy for the hosts against the most miserly defence in the Championship, with Middlesbrough having conceded just 33 goals in their 39 games thus far.
Potter underlined earlier this week that he thinks his side have come on leaps and bounds since the sides first met, and facing off against a team who have been firmly in promotion contention throughout the season will offer a chance to showcase the burgeoning development of this exciting young squad.
The Swans also have a good record against the Teessiders, losing just one of the last seven meetings between the two teams, and a victory for the hosts would put them within five points of the visitors and keep alive the slim chances of a play-off spot.
The Swans are expected to have the same squad to face Boro as they did for the midweek win over Brentford, although defender Joe Rodon could be involved for the first time since the win over Sheffield United in January after recovering from a broken metatarsal.
Manager Potter's squad have been nursing a few bumps and bruises but he revealed no new injury concerns at his pre-match press conference.
However, Erwin Mulder (finger), Leroy Fer (hamstring) and Martin Olsson (Achilles) remain on the sidelines.
Graham Potter: “It’s a new game. Middlesbrough will pose a different challenge to Brentford so we need to be ready for that and I’m sure the boys are looking forward to the game.
"I think Middlesbrough have been bit a bit unlucky. They haven’t taken their opportunities and have been punished at certain moments. Tony (Pulis) is vastly experienced and I’m sure they’ll bounce back. I’ve got a lot of respect for Tony and what he’s done.”
Matt Grimes: “I hope it’s the start of something. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve had the performances but not the results. But, against Brentford, we got both. That can only be a positive thing for us to build on. If we keep maintaining and bettering our performances every week, we won’t go far wrong."
Tony Pulis: "Swansea came down and decided to go about things in a different way from other clubs and have brought Graham in and given him time to build.
"The people down there like him and the way he is going about things. He has brought them a bit of an identity and a way of playing. It will be a difficult game. Of all the seven games we’ve got left this could be the toughest."
Remember the last time?
It is almost exactly two years since Middlesbrough last visited the Liberty Stadium, and supporters of both sides will hope today's contest proves to be a more memorable affair than the Premier League meeting of April 2017.
Both sides were in desperate need of a result as they battled relegation from the top-flight, and it was perhaps inevitable that it proved to be a tight and cagey affair with so much at stake.
Swansea were without topscorer Fernando Llorente and struggled to create genuine goalscoring opportunities against an obdurate Boro side, with Steve Agnew in caretaker charge following the dismissal of Aitor Karanka.
Leroy Fer missed the best chance of the lot for the Swans late on, while Gylfi Sigurdsson twice went close but to no avail as the game ended goalless.
The Swans would end up avoiding the drop under Paul Clement, but Boro would make an immediate return to the Championship.
4 - A Swansea win would see them record four home league wins in a row for the first time in just over 12 months, last completing the feat under Carlos Carvalhal in March 2018.
9- Daniel James has been directly involved in 10 of Swansea's goals this season with four goals and six assists to his name. Of those 10, nine have come at the Liberty in the form of four goals and five assists.