MIDDLESBROUGH could find themselves facing a Leeds United side featuring star man Kalvin Phillips tomorrow night, with the midfielder set to be given every opportunity to recover from the leg injury he suffered in his side’s weekend win over Reading.

Phillips was forced off in the first half of Leeds’ 1-0 win at Elland Road after damaging his leg in a challenge with Omar Richards.

Speaking immediately after the game, Marcelo Bielsa admitted he was concerned the £20m-rated midfielder, widely regarded as one of the most talented players in the Championship, had suffered a serious injury.

However, a subsequent assessment has revealed Phillips did not suffer anything more serious than a dead leg, and while some bruising will limit his training programme ahead of tomorrow’s game at the Riverside, he has a chance of retaining his place in Leeds’ starting side.

His presence would be a major boost to the visitors, who will be looking to make Boro’s position in the bottom half of the table even more precarious.

Saturday’s damaging 1-0 defeat at Barnsley saw Boro plunge to within three points of the relegation zone, and the Teessiders will drop to within a place of the bottom three if Huddersfield Town beat Bristol City at the John Smith’s Stadium tonight.

They have not been in the relegation zone since November, a month that witnessed the 4-0 capitulation at Elland Road that represents the lowest point of the campaign so far. Boro were ripped apart by a rampant Leeds side that afternoon, and Jonathan Woodgate will want to ensure his team selection avoids any chance of a repeat on home soil tomorrow.

Having gone for experience over youth at Oakwell at the weekend, Woodgate will have to decide whether to restore some of his younger players to the starting line-up tomorrow.

Djed Spence was not involved in the matchday squad at Barnsley, but his return at right wing-back would enable Woodgate to move Jonny Howson into a more central position. Hayden Coulson was a second-half substitute on Saturday, but will hope to dislodge Marvin Johnson from the left wing-back role.

Paddy McNair is likely to return in midfield, potentially along with Marcus Tavernier, while Woodgate will have to decide whether to continue with Britt Assombalonga partnering Ashley Fletcher in attack. The pair started alongside each other for only the second time in 14 matches at the weekend, but neither was able to make any kind of an impact as Boro slumped to their second 1-0 defeat in a row.

Assombalonga has not scored since early November, but while the record signing looked rusty at the weekend, Woodgate will be mindful that he remains the likeliest source of a goal.

Lukas Nmecha has failed to convince since joining on loan from Manchester City, while Rudy Gestede remains something of an enigma given his regular appearances on the substitutes’ bench but rare opportunities in the starting XI.

Gestede’s last start came in the 1-0 defeat at Fulham, and while he impressed at Preston on New Year’s Day, he looked rusty and ineffective at Craven Cottage. On the evidence of the last few matches, Woodgate appears reluctant to put too much faith in him.