LEWIS WING has admitted that greater significance rests on Middlesbrough’s next two games against teams in the Championship relegation zone having slipped up again in midweek.

Even though Boro still have a seven-point cushion over the bottom three after being held to a draw at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night, the situation could deteriorate if they can’t overcome bottom club Luton Town.

The Hatters’ visit to the Riverside Stadium will be followed by a trip to second from bottom Barnsley, so Middlesbrough’s healthy advantage of the drop zone could soon change if they don’t find a way to end their wait for a second win in 2020.

Jonathan Woodgate’s side have not won since beating Preston on New Year’s Day; a run of eight matches, six of which have been in the league.

Even though there have only been two league defeats to Fulham and Brentford in that time, it is a far cry from the sort of form that earned the head coach manager of the month in December when Middlesbrough looked to have turned things around.

Wing has revealed how Middlesbrough’s intention was to defeat the sides occupying the bottom three spots before the visits of automatic promotion chasers Leeds United and Nottingham Forest on February 26 March 2 respectively.

So there is little room for manoeuvre ahead of the game with Luton and Barnsley if Middlesbrough want to keep the threat of relegation at arm’s length.

“The dressing room was all down on Tuesday night but I know we will pick ourselves up and go again for the weekend,” said Wing.

“I don’t think we have been poor during this run. I think we have played reasonably well all season, you don’t really see teams blow us off the park. It is just 1-0s, or being beaten by one goal that gets us. We had that turning point where we won five games in a row but we need to pick up points again.

“I thought the game was there for us to take at Wigan. We have to focus on the next two games now and those are an important two games for us given where we are.

“These are games we have to win in our position. After these we have Leeds. All games in the Championship are tough but these are two we have to win, it’s as simple as that. We had our mind set on winning these three games, we didn’t win the first so we need to win the next two.”

Wing scored both of Middlesbrough’s goals at Wigan. Those took his tally for the season to six and four of those have come since the turn of the year, during Middlesbrough’s relapse in form.

He has been in and out of the side more that he would have liked this season, but Woodgate has turned to him more of late again after recovering from the injury that prevented him from playing a few games earlier in the campaign.

Last season Wing was a breath of fresh air in the Championship under Tony Pulis, while this season he has found it a little tougher given that other teams are now more aware of the threat he poses – particularly outside of the box. That has not stopped him from scoring regularly from distance though.

“I find it easier to score outside the box than inside!” said Wing. “I feel like teams are starting to understand that now because when I get the ball I tend to have loads of people around me to try to stop me shooting.  “I got a couple of chances in the second half at Wigan and I scored them. Last year people didn’t know who I was, but they clearly do now because I am definitely marked tighter in those areas.  “This year they know what I am about and what my strengths are. You have to learn and adapt your game, you always have to. I have definitely noticed it more in the last few weeks, teams are setting up to try to stop me.”

Woodgate has been mixing formations up of late in a bid to get Middlesbrough going again and at Wigan, there was a three-man midfield consisting of Wing, Paddy McNair and George Saville all operating behind attacking midfielder Ravel Morrison.

Woodgate explained: "It wasn't a diamond (midfield) it was more of having one sitting and two ahead with three up top. We need to try to win games at times by not staying with just one formation. We need to have plan As and plan Bs to try and beat teams."

Djed Spence has been rested of late and it would be no surprise to see him return to the right against Luton at home on Saturday, although many expected him to slot back in at Wigan and Woodgate opted for an alternative.  Having made his debut at Wigan, Morrison will now be expected to build on those 70 minutes and attack the Championship. There were glimpses of his talent, and how comfortable he is on the ball, but he didn’t influence play in the final third as much as he would have liked.

The on loan Sheffield United playmaker did impress Wing, who is more than happy to link up with him to get Middlesbrough moving in the right direction again.

“He is different class. I have seen him train for the last week or so and you can give him the ball whenever and he will take it,” said Wing. “He is a massive boost for the squad. We have worked on little triangles. His quality is there and his fitness will come.  “It will be nice to see what he can do in the next couple of weeks. It is nice to know you can wrap a ball into someone’s feet and they will deal with it. He will create chances for us.”

Middlesbrough will have experienced defenders George Friend and Ryan Shotton available again to face Luton, if Woodgate wants to turn to them. The pair came through Tuesday’s Under-23s friendly with Celtic unscathed.  It would be a surprise to see either handed immediate returns to the first team line-up, although Woodgate knows that he needs a lift from somewhere to get things moving in a positive direction  again after Tuesday's game at Wigan when referee Oliver Langford hardly helped matters. He frustrated both sides during the draw.

Wing said: "I want to win games, I'm here to win games, and we are disappointed not to have won on Tuesday. When we went 2-1 up I thought the game was there for us to ride out, but we were a bit unlucky with Harold Moukoudi's own goal. All I can say is I am disappointed with that result.

"After the sending-off I felt the referee tried to even things out with blowing his whistle constantly. It was stop-start, but we have to look at the positives and we have to win them both."