MIDDLESBROUGH trio George Saville, Paddy McNair and Mo Besic are expected back at Rockliffe Park on Wednesday hoping to convince Tony Pulis they are fit to play this Friday.

All three players figured in Bosnia’s victory over Northern Ireland in Sarajevo on Monday night and lose an extra day’s rest because of the decision to bring Boro’s fixture at Sheffield Wednesday forward.

Pulis has described the situation as ludicrous and thinks Football League chiefs should be to blame for poorer performances in general if they continue to reschedule matches in this way to suit the TV cameras rather than the players.

Saville, McNair and Besic all played in Sarajevo, while Middlesbrough are expecting their Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph and Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite back on Thursday morning at the latest.

Randolph was part of the Ireland squad that faced Wales in Dublin on Tuesday night and Braithwaite was with the Danes in Copenhagen for the Austria test.

All five players are key members of Pulis’ squad and will be monitored closely before the Middlesbrough manager will decide what team to name at Hillsborough. Only McNair of that quintet didn’t start in the defeat to Nottingham Forest before the international break.

Saville was criticised by some fans for his performance in that defeat, and he was left frustrated when he rattled the post as Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to Besic’s and Bosnia on Monday.

Saville, who played well in an attacking sense, drilled an effort against the woodwork in a bright first 45 minutes then had another effort saved after the break. Despite the better chances, Bosnia made their chances count with Roma’s former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scoring twice.

“Everyone is flat,” said Saville, who arrived from Millwall on Teesside in a deal worth £7m in August. “It is a game we felt we should have won.

“We dominated the game but couldn’t make our chances count and if you do that you will get punished. We should have taken our chances. Obviously I hit the post and missed a good one just before that.

“And we had some good chances at 1-0 to get back into it but haven’t taken them and with people like Dzeko on the pitch you are going to pay the price.”

Saville is now looking for Northern Ireland to be cuter as the look to rekindle the sort of form that made them a success story at the last Euros.

“We need to be a little bit cleverer,” he said. “When they got the goal we had 10 or 15 minutes when we let them take control and get on the front foot and it got away from us.”

Saville played the full 90 in an attacking midfield role while Boro team-mate McNair, who has been unable to hold down a starting spot under Pulis, got 71 minutes at right-back. Besic was substituted in stoppage time.