MIDDLESBROUGH will head to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday looking to avoid a defeat that will see them drop into the Championship’s bottom three for the first time since December 2010, but midfielder George Saville insists “nobody is relegated in October”.

There was further disappointment and a few boos at the final whistle on Saturday when Boro lost narrowly to league leaders West Bromwich Albion, despite a much improved display by recent standards.

Middlesbrough created plenty of good chances against a team Jonathan Woodgate suggested “will go up”, while at the same time there was also improvement defensively after a change to a wing-back system.

But Hal Robson-Kanu’s 82nd minute winner left Middlesbrough still wondering where the third win from 12 league games under Woodgate will come from – and how they could do with that at Huddersfield in midweek.

And the Terriers, who drew at Blackburn on Saturday, are showing signs of huge improvement under former Lincoln boss Danny Cowley. They have won two of their last four matches without losing.

That is in contrast to Middlesbrough who have lost four of their last five games to drop to within a point of the drop zone, and that is the worst run of form of any team in the Championship right now.

“We are in October, no one is going to win the league in October and nobody is going to be relegated in October,” said midfielder Saville. “We know that. It is a big game on Wednesday, both football clubs need the points. We need them.

“The performance was there against West Brom and if we can repeat this performance then we will win games sooner rather than later.”

It is a sign of Middlesbrough’s improvement from recent outings that they did actually create some excellent chances against the Baggies, who sit two points clear at the top of the table having lost just once this season. Seven of those opportunities ended with shots on target.

The visitors’ goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made a number of decent saves but there was also some poor finishing. Saville was denied on one occasion by the shot-stopper in the second half before Robson-Kanu had opened the scoring.

If Middlesbrough are to get out of trouble then they know they have to find a way to find the net more, with only bottom club Barnsley and fellow strugglers Wigan (9) struggling to score more goals than Woodgate’s men 11 this season.

Saville said: “It’s the rub of the green.

Saville continued "When you are up there towards the top then things seem to go for you, when you are down there towards the bottom it doesn’t.  “We all know how that works. If you don’t take chances then you will be done by a good side and stung. That is what has happened here. We need performances like this because there have been performances that have not been good enough.

“The Birmingham game wasn’t good enough by any stretch, the game before that wasn’t either. The Sheffield Wednesday game wasn’t. If we put performances in like this one though that will change.

“I don’t remember Darren Randolph making many saves. We limited them to creating chances even though they had a lot of the ball. It was stretched second half but we got the better chances. West Brom will be there or thereabouts this season so we can take this performance forward.”

Given the improvements it is likely that Woodgate will continue with the system at Huddersfield that made things more difficult for West Brom than the back four style did at Birmingham before the international break.

Rather than ask Shotton to play left-back like he did at St Andrew’s, he was on the left of three centre-backs that were flanked by wing-backs Jonny Howson and Marvin Johnson.  Playing that way allowed Woodgate to field three centre-midfielders ahead of holding man Lewis Wing, and that triumvirate got upfield regularly to join in with the attacks with lone striker Britt Assombalonga.

Saville said: “This shape does seem to suit us. We have three centre-halves in there and a solid midfield.  “I feel we have a lot of strong midfielders at this club and have lacked the depth on the wings, so maybe the gaffer has looked at that and decided to change. We have tightened up a lot and looked better in this game so we need to make sure that continues.  “We did get higher up the pitch. The game was to try to press West Brom and get after them. We created a few chances and will take the positives into the next match.  “It is the manager’s decision what system he uses, whether he sticks with it and sticks with the same players, but we have shown we can adapt to a different system now so he will look at things and the opposition and work out what is best for each game.”

Saville will be keen to shrug off a bad knock to stay in Woodgate’s mind for the trip to Huddersfield. As he chatted in the tunnel at the Riverside on Saturday he did so in his strip, with an ice pack strapped around his ankle.

The 26-year-old, signed for £7m from Millwall after arriving in the summer of last year, has had an indifferent time at Middlesbrough and the West Brom game was only the third time he has started in the league this season.  It was his first since appearing in the defeat at Cardiff on September 21, so he will be doing everything he can to prove his fitness in the hope of staying in the mix for the trip to the John Smith’s Stadium.

“I want to be playing every game. It is a knock on the ankle, and too early to say for Wednesday. I will do what I can to be fit,” said Saville.

“My performances need to be at the level I was at against West Brom and more. This was my first game back but this was a good platform to build on.  “I want to show this football club what I can do, and help us to get up the table. We don’t want to be down there. We are too good to be down there and we have to prove it.”

Middlesbrough's situation is a surprise to West Brom boss Slaven Bilic, particularly after an afternoon when the visitors could quite easily have lost even though they had the much larger share of possession.

But he is determined to keep West Brom ahead of the rest. Bilic, whose side have lost just once this season, said “It is pressure up there . Of course, it is a positive pressure. That is why we played, trained, from the end of June. That’s why, to try to win games.  “The more you win the closer you will be to the top of the table and add to the pressure. This is a totally different pressure to fighting for your life … this is enjoying. Definitely.

“Middlesbrough are there at the moment. I strongly believe in them having two legends of the pitch in Jonathan and Robbie [Keane, assistant manager], they are warriors. They have done everything in their life. They have a good team.  “Middlesbrough are not confident and what they all need is a couple of wins. That’s not easy. They are fighting hard and they gave us a hard game. If they continue then they will be out of trouble very soon.

“Make no mistake, we knew what kind of game we expected, and it was the one we didn’t want. They defended in numbers but with more quality and quantity of attacks, then sooner or later you will get good opportunities. That is exactly what happened.”