Talking points ahead of the Boro game
As we look forward to Saturday's home game against Middlesbrough, we take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the match.
Yann's back! - After three long months, Yann is finally back in the fold. The Frenchman under went groin and hip surgery in pre-season and after our striking troubles, they will hopefully be eased slightly by his return. Stam even admitted he could be selected in the starting XI, especially with Bodvarsson and Mendes still out injured. You know it's not an ideal situation when you're pinning your hopes on a 36-year old, but this will be a welcome boost for all.
Both managers are under some pressure - Stam won't be the only manager on Saturday who is not exactly matching expectations, as Garry Monk hasn't exactly hit the heights yet with Boro. Both former defenders are young managers with big futures in the game, but they are finding out the hard way, as some sections of fans are getting on their backs. This could make for an interesting affair, with both sides needing the points.
Adi Popa gives Stam a selection dilemma - The forgotten Romanian staked his claim with a superb performance for the under 23s on Monday night and it would be very harsh on Stam to not at least include him in the squad on Saturday. With McCleary out injured and arguably in poor form anyway, Popa deserves his shot. Given our current form and situation, we need players that want to prove a point and Popa will have a lot of steam to let off.
We need to strike early - Two sides low on confidence, the first goal is going to be absolutely massive. It also begs the question, who is the pressure on more? We are at home and near the drop zone, but considering the money that Boro have spent this year, they would expect to a closer to the top than the bottom. It makes for an intriguing affair.
How does Stam approach it? - We have been leaking silly goals, yet we seem pretty toothless up top, so realistically, how does Stam go about getting the win? The return of Yann will help, but that isn't exactly going to be the pivotal difference. Playing with a high tempo and an early goal will settle any nerves and play on Middlesbrough, but they could say the same about us. At the end of the day, no matter how we do it, we need a win!