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Johnson Previews Capital One Cup Tie With Middlesbrough

11 August 2014

Manager Lee Johnson admits Middlesbrough are favourites for tomorrow's Capital One Cup clash and is encouraging his players to play with more freedom.

Aitor Karanka brings his 'Boro side to SportsDirect.com Park tomorrow on the back of a 2-0 home victory against Birmingham City on Saturday.

Johnson is an admirer of the 'Boro boss and believes they will be tough opposition for his side.

He said: "Middlesbrough are a good side and we know a lot about them. I played with Adomah at Bristol City and he can turn a game on its head. They have experienced Championship and international players in their squad so we know it's going to be tough.

"They are a big club and it's a big game for us but we should have no fear. There is no expectation for us to win so we can go out and play with freedom and the lads can enjoy themselves."

With three games in a week early in the season, the 33-year-old is keen not to overplay his players so changes could be made going into tomorrow's game.

"We have got a few niggles going into the game and we have to assess those. We have to pick a side that is fit and take into account how many minutes each player has had during pre-season.

"We need to work out who can play three games in a week at this stage. At the moment, we have not decided on our team so we have to see what happens between today and tomorrow," the boss continued.

"In the early rounds, you don't know what squad the opposition are going to play. Fitness comes into it and systems come into play. It's our first home game so a lot of our players will want to make an impression with the supporters and fans will want to see what they are about."

The manager made a special mention to the 623 travelling supporters that made the trip to Colchester on Saturday and he's hoping that support can be continued into the home fixtures.

"They were brilliant," remarked Johnson. "They never stopped singing and they stuck with us.

"What stuck out for me was when we were ten minutes in and one down, they actually raised the decibels. I was really pleased that they could celebrate two brilliant goals because it would have been a long journey home if they didn't make any noise."

Watch the full interview on Latics Player.

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