PATRICK BAMFORD could be available to face Derby County in this Saturday’s promotion tussle with Derby County, when Middlesbrough will be looking to build on Saturday’s much-needed victory which put their play-off push back on track.

The Riverside Stadium was silenced midway through the first half in the 2-1 win over Bristol City on Saturday when Bamford lay motionless on the pitch in front of the East Stand for several minutes.

The ten-goal striker hit the ground heavily under a challenge from Aden Flint and after more than nine minutes of treatment, including oxygen and having his neck put in a brace, he was stretchered off and taken to hospital as a precaution.

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis reported afterwards that “Patrick was fine” and that he would be willing to put his boots back on straightaway, although given the circumstances, a decision will rest with the medics later in the week.

Because it was a knock to the head it could be that the six-day rule is brought in, which would mean him having to be checked over on Friday to determine whether Bamford is able to face Derby at Pride Park in another important fixture in the race for a top-six place.

Middlesbrough, whose only attacking alternative to Bamford is Britt Assombalonga, will head to face the Rams buoyed by a return to winning ways over Bristol City.

Had they failed to claim three points the nerves would have grown in the dressing room and in the stands.

Adam Clayton, the Middlesbrough midfielder, said: “Our play-off push got turned on at the end of that game.

“Everyone now realises it is crunch time and it is time to go now.

“We are in the play-off places again and it is ours to lose. That results we have just achieved gives us confidence. It’s down to us now, we know that.

“We got our fans back on side after a few disappointing performances.

“Everyone can see the lads really want to give this a go and get into the play-offs.

This was a big one. We were playing a team in and around us, with aspirations to get in the Premier League. If they were to win it would have been a dampner. It is a big statement from us to show that we will give everyone a right go, big or little, in the promotion race or not.”

Eight of Middlesbrough’s starting line-up have been involved in play-off and promotion chases, including six who were in at least one of the Teessiders’ last two.

Middlesbrough had eight players in their starting line-up who have been involved in play-off and promotion charges, including six who were part in at least one of the Teessiders’ last two.

The first year saw them lose at Wembley in the final to a Norwich side fielding Jonny Howson in its ranks, while the following year ended in automatic promotion. Clayton was part of those.

“That’s the play-offs, things change all the time, but we have an advantage because we have been here many a time,” he said. “You can win one week and draw the next. 

“I think we have the lads to get over the line. You could see by the crowd’s reaction at the end how big this result was. 

“Maybe we didn’t realise until the final whistle how big until the crowd reacted like that. There are a lot of lads who know what to do in the last few games and I think we deserved to win.

“We have to play the teams around us and we see that as positive. If we win we will take points off a direct rival. Bring the teams on! We have done it before we just need to stay calm and give 100 per cent. We have the players to do it.”

After this weekend’s trip to Derby, Millwall will be heading to the Riverside looking to maintain their own spot in the top six. Middlesbrough then close the campaign with a trip to mid-table Ipswich and it will be hoped they can have their play-off place sealed before that.

Clayton has been in and out of the side of late and he wants to keep his place after replacing the suspended Grant Leadbitter in the middle against Bristol City – not that he will be banging on the manager’s door at this stage if he doesn’t.

The former Huddersfield man said: “Every day we try to get in the team. Grant is a top player, I can’t argue if Grant is in there ahead of me. We are both top players, we have to keep grafting. 

“It’s top players keeping you out here, it’s not schoolboys keeping you out. I think I did well. But whoever is playing we need three points, now is not the time to be sulking if you don’t play because we are playing for something that changes lives.”

In a sign of just how tight the situation is in the Championship, Bristol City dropped down to 11th after losing at Middlesbrough despite only being four points behind sixth spot. Time is clearly running out for the Robins, but manager Lee Johnson is determined to see his players keep going.

Johnson said: “I think we have to give it a right go to win our last three games, you saw that from us at Middlesbrough. We had moments and we still have three games that are winnable. We have to be at it.” 

But he had no complaints over the defeat because he felt that Bristol City failed to deal with the set-pieces properly which led to George Friend and Daniel Ayala heading in goals to overturn an early lead given to the visitors by Milan Djuric.

Johnson said: “The boys worked hard, showed effort and the energy was good. They had more quality on the day with their decision making, particularly in midfield. 

“We conceded two poor goals from defensive set pieces. We had four or five good chances, on the day we weren’t clinical enough. It was too easy for them to break our frontline, good players on the ball and our midfield had to work too hard.”