TONY PULIS believes his Middlesbrough players are made of strong enough stuff to ensure they can deal with the extra pressure that today’s visit of Hull City brings on their shoulders.

Boro were relieved to finally end a six-match losing run at Bolton on Tuesday night and now they return to the Riverside today looking to end a run of four straight home defeats.

The last of those, losing to Bristol City, ended with Middlesbrough fans turning on Pulis and there is likely to be more of that if there is a not a positive performance and outcome against the Tigers.

Middlesbrough are four points shy of the play-off zone before the game, but with Bristol City and Aston Villa due to meet, this weekend is an opportunity to try to close the gap.

Pulis said: “I am not concerned about a good start, I am just concerned about winning the game. If the supporters want to come and criticise me, the players, I am not bothered because they pay their money. That’s their option.

“The reality is you have to accept it, so there’s no point in moaning and groaning about it. If you go out and give it a go, nine times out of ten the majority of the people will be 100 per cent behind you. If you don’t then you have to take the stick.”

He added: “I hope I have the players can handle it. I hope so. I have had a long career in management and it doesn’t come, apart from the lucky ones, easy. You have to take criticism, 20,000 or whatever will turn up and all be managers on Saturday.”

But Pulis, whose contract is up at the end of the season, said: “I’ve got a of confidence from managing for a long time, I’ve got a lot of confidence in what we do here – it’s not just me, it’s the coaches staff as well – we put the team together and sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t.”