MIDDLESBROUGH are doing everything they can to ensure Friday’s game with Leeds United beats the big freeze – even if a little extra time would help Grant Leadbitter’s own fight to get the go-ahead.

The Boro captain had to be replaced during last Saturday’s draw with Sunderland because he felt his hamstring tweak after scoring a penalty at the Stadium of Light.

He is being closely monitored this week at the club’s Rockliffe Park training base and he hopes to win his own fitness battle so that he can take his place against Leeds – if the game goes ahead.

“I felt a bit of feeling in the hamstring and I didn’t want to make it worse. Hopefully I will be fit,” said Leadbitter, who celebrated his penalty by going over to kiss the area of the Wearside pitch where his Sunderland supporting father Brian’s ashes were buried a decade ago.

“People who know me, know me well, and it was a family day for me really on Saturday. I really enjoyed playing for Middlesbrough on that day.

“It was nerve wracking when I was taking the penalty, I had a lot of energy going through me, that’s probably how I got injured, taking the penalty, feeling the hamstring.

“Everyone knows about the celebration now, it’s a big part of my family, so I don’t think anyone can take that away from me.”

Leadbitter has lined up alongside Mo Besic in the middle of the midfield in the last two matches but knows there is big competition for those two positions from Jonny Howson and Adam Clayton.

The 32-year-old never wants to miss matches and always plays with his heart on his sleeve, trying to lead by example, and he was frustrated not to leave the club where it all started – and who he supports – with the victory that would have lifted Middlesbrough into the top six.

“I was disappointed not to get three points, that was the main target,” he said. “We move on to the game with Leeds now and pushing to get where we want.”

He added in an interview with the website: “The Championship hasn’t changed much since two years ago when we got promoted, we are at the business of the end season now, there’s still a lot of games to go and you will see some strange results for the top teams.

“We didn’t win all our games when we got promoted. That’s why the fans will play a big part for us. There’s 12 games to go, lots of games to play.

“Our season’s been stop-start, we know that, we are well within our target and we are looking forward to the remaining games. We have a manager who has been there and done it as well now. We are looking for consistency.”

Middlesbrough have assured fans they will do everything they can to make sure this Friday’s televised game beats the Beast from the East.

The Championship fixture will be in danger if the Baltic blast continues to hit the region and that would make it difficult for fans to travel to the Riverside Stadium.

Weather forecasts predict further heavy snow showers so Middlesbrough have moved to keep fans updated with what is going on.

They have released pictures of inside and outside the Riverside, where deep snow has covered everywhere, although the club would be confident of clearing the pitch.

A club statement read: “The club are currently working hard to ensure Friday’s game against Leeds United goes ahead as planned.

“The club cannot legislate for forthcoming weather and more snow and freezing temperatures are forecast.”

Schools across Teesside have been closed and road conditions are dangerous after a couple of days of freezing conditions and temperatures. It is expected to continue until Saturday.

Middlesbrough would be confident of clearing the pitch and it does have undersoil heating, while they would also be hopeful of keeping the car parks and paths gritted – although the approach roads could be more of a problem.

A decision is unlikely to be made early, with Leeds not too far away, but police, club and council staff will be watching the weather closely and in regular contact.

The North-East’s other clubs are also waiting for updates, although only Middlesbrough are due to play in the area on Friday.

Newcastle head to Liverpool on Saturday evening and that is after Sunderland have faced Millwall at The Den.

Hartlepool are at Aldershot, who have reported a light dusting of snow and predict further snow, and Darlington are due to travel to Aldershot. Spennymoor, whose FA Trophy replay with Bromley was postponed on Tuesday, are due to face Leamington at home.

It would be a surprise if local league fixtures and Northern League fixtures get the go-ahead given the circumstances.