REGARDLESS of what happens when Derby County head to Swansea City on Wednesday night, Middlesbrough will have a chance of sneaking back into a play-off place on the final Sunday of the season. Jonny Howson does not want Boro to be left blaming themselves on that afternoon in South Yorkshire.

As things stand, a victory at relegated Rotherham might not even be enough to secure sixth spot ahead of Derby, and a greater goal difference suggests Frank Lampard’s Rams are still very much in the driving seat to finish in that position after beating Bristol City on Saturday.

But Howson knows the situation, has worked out the permutations, and does not see any reason for Middlesbrough to focus on anything other than themselves because what matters most is they perform.

There have been numerous times this season when Middlesbrough haven’t delivered, which is why Tony Pulis’ side have dropped out of contention for a top two slot and fallen out of the play-off zone.

Even on Saturday they didn’t look anywhere near as dangerous after cancelling out Reading’s 11th minute opener from Danny Loader by taking the lead through Lewis Wing’s 31st minute strike and Britt Assombalonga’s penalty eight minutes later.

Nevertheless Middlesbrough held on to secure a crucial three points and now the desire is to follow that up with a final day victory at Rotherham that could still end with them fighting it out in the play-offs next month.

“I can’t affect what happens with Derby in midweek, whatever happens, happens,” said Howson. “Personally I won’t be taking much interest in it when it is taking place. We can’t affect it. I won’t be thinking much about it, or that I need to watch it.

“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves, we will go to Rotherham and make sure if we do miss out it will not be through a lack of trying. We will be very disappointed if we do miss out.

“The biggest disappointment for us would be if we come off the pitch without maximum points at Rotherham knowing Derby have slipped up. That would be the real kick in the teeth, if we have let a massive chance go. We have to concentrate on ourselves and get three points.”

Not only do Derby need to lose one of the games for the two promotion rivals to stay level on points, Middlesbrough also know they could do with Lampard’s team slipping up again when West Brom head to Pride Park on Sunday. As things stand, Middlesbrough’s goal difference is six goals inferior.

What could help Middlesbrough is the fact that Lewis Wing is available again. He did tire in the second half, after making his return to action after hernia surgery. It was his first start since mid-March and he was Pulis’ most dangerous player.

Time and again in the first half he had numerous efforts on goal and was rewarded with his fifth of the season when he was in the right spot to convert from ten yards when Howson’s right-wing delivery bounced of Andy Yiadom and dropped invitingly for him just after half an hour.  The former Shildon man also hit the post and forced goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into a strong save before he did find the net. He offers something that Middlesbrough’s other middle-men don’t, and that is a willingness to have a shot at goal regularly.

“It’s a good time at any time of the season to have a player like that around,” said Howson. “It’s good for competition for places. Adam Clayton has clearly missed out this time, he has energy and bite as well. When you have players like Wingy coming back it can only help us.

“We connect quite well. I’m a big admirer of Wingy. Sometimes it just seems to click with certain players and we have clicked.

“I like him when he is played in front of me, the energy he brings, he can set the whole team going. He closes down from the front, his appetite is there for us all to see, and we need players like that in the game.”

While Wing is impressing in front of him, Howson’s own displays have been one of the big positives for Middlesbrough since the turn of the year – even though it has meant a change of position.  At the start of the campaign it would have been difficult for him to envisage playing wing-back having spent the majority of his career as a forward-thinking midfielder with Leeds United and Norwich City.  Injuries and restricted options, coupled with Pulis’ preferred wing-back system, meant that Howson was asked to try it out wide and there has not been a game in that role where he has not impressed.

Not only did he link well with centre-back Paddy McNair and midfielder Wing against Reading, his deliveries have also been excellent throughout his run in the team – and he could have scored numerous times too, leading to him being named after a Brazilian superstar.

As Howson conducted the interview in the tunnel at the Riverside, Stewart Downing walked behind him shouting “it’s the Leeds Cafu”. The Yorkshireman smiled and said: “Some have shouted I’m Cafu, I prefer James Milner if I’m being honest!  “I will certainly take the Cafu banter though, he was world-class.  I will have to take it, it’s not a bad one to take. When I first went there it was a case of me doing it because I had to fill in. Now I have had a fair few games there, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  “I have certainly enjoyed getting forward, it has felt natural in a way. There have been a few times where I have been caught out but there are players who have backed me up.

“I must admit the first couple of games, you have to be professional and do what your manager asks you to do, but I must admit I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It possibly suits my game, maybe I didn’t want to go there at 30-years-old, maybe in a another few years’ time. But as long as I’m in that XI … “Have I adapted my game? yeah, maybe a little bit. I’d only done it a couple of times. I’ve pleased I’ve been able to adapt. OK, there’s things I can improve on but hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about.”