TONY PULIS has urged his Middlesbrough players not to become the latest big-name team to come unstuck at Newport County’s Rodney Parade as he prepares to return to his roots for this evening’s FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Boro head to South Wales looking to set up a glamour fifth-round tie with Manchester City, but while their opponents find themselves in the bottom half of League Two after crashing to a 3-0 defeat at Grimsby Town at the weekend, Pulis will be warning his players not to take anything for granted.

Not only did Newport claim a deserved draw at the Riverside last month, they also boast a proud record of upsetting higher-ranked opposition in the last couple of seasons.

Last term, they beat Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup before holding Tottenham to a 1-1 draw in round four. This season, they saw off Premier League Leicester City to set up their fourth-round tie with Boro, so while his side will start as strong favourites on paper, Pulis will not be underestimating Newport.

“It’s not a case of David versus Goliath,” said the Boro boss, who was born and raised in Newport and spent his early days as a youngster playing for Newport YMCA. “They’ve played two Premier League clubs there and not been beaten so we’ve got to give them a lot more respect than that.

“Spurs and Leicester have gone there and haven’t won, so that says everything about the spirit they’ve got in the team, the stadium and everything else. Everybody will be at it down there, it will be tough and it’s one that we have to make sure we understand.”

With today’s game sandwiched between crucial league matches against West Brom and Leeds, Pulis will maintain his policy of making a number of changes for the cup competitions.

The likes of Dimi Konstantopoulos, Paddy McNair, Adam Clayton, Rajiv van La Parra and Stewart Downing are expected to return to the starting line-up, and it will be interesting to see what Pulis does up front.

Ashley Fletcher and Rudy Gestede are set to return to the squad, but Pulis could opt to start with Britt Assombalonga after Boro’s record signing came off the bench to score two second-half goals in Saturday’s 3-2 win at the Hawthorns.

Assombalonga has not started a league game since Boxing Day, but with Boro having failed to add to their attacking ranks on deadline-day last week, the 26-year-old is set to be an extremely important player in the final three months of the campaign.

His weekend double took him 11 goals for the season in all competitions, and Pulis is confident he will get plenty of chances to add to his tally if he maintains the standards he set in his 25-minute run-out at the weekend.

“I think you start with him every week if he plays at that level,” he said. “That’s what we want. There’s no, ‘I’ve got a favourite here or there’, I can’t think of any managers that do that. It’s just getting the best out of players in respect of the team.

“Britt's two goals were fantastic, I was really pleased. The goal against Birmingham when he came off the bench (in a 2-1 win) as well was a great goal.

“He doesn’t want to be looked on as an impact player who will come on when the game is more stretched and players have run out of a little bit of steam. The boy wants to play and wants to start - to do that he has to be up to speed from the start.”

Assombalonga was linked with a possible January exit from the Riverside, with Bristol City having made a number of inquiries about a potential deal.

Given that he cost £15m when he moved from Nottingham Forest under Garry Monk, there was never any realistic possibility of him leaving last month, but Pulis admits the uncertainty created by the January window was an unhelpful distraction.

He has discussed the situation with Assombalonga in the last few days, and is confident the 26-year-old is fully focused on trying to fire Boro back to the Premier League.

“We’ve had a chat about things,” he said. “Everybody is different, and hopefully with the window having closed now, everybody can settle down and concentrate on the one thing, and that is to do the best they possibly can for this team. That’s not just Britt, it’s everybody.”

Last week’s failure to make a deadline-day addition has left Boro short of options in a handful of positions, but there can be benefits to working with a closely-knit squad and Pulis expects everyone to get an opportunity to make an impact in the final three months of the season.

“We’re a little bit short at the back with Danny (Batth) leaving, so we’ve got to be lucky there,” he said. “But we’ve got good depth in midfield, and with Rudy and Fletch staying we’ve got the four strikers you would need. So those areas are covered.

“We saw at the weekend what we’re capable of. We took the lead, and then after they scored their two goals, we came back again. That showed great character and spirit from the group.

“We saw it through. They were 11 games unbeaten and they’re a good team with a lot of players who could play in the Premier League, so it was a great result for us. We’ve managed to do the double over West Brom, which is testament to the players.”

Middlesbrough (possible, 4-3-3): Konstantopoulos; McNair, Fry, Flint, Friend; Howson, Clayton, van La Parra; Downing, Assombalonga, Fletcher.