Middlesbrough predicted team vs Watford as Boro face one final game with clear goal

Matt Clarke of Middlesbrough celebrates with teammates after scoring
Matt Clarke of Middlesbrough celebrates with teammates after scoring -Credit:Getty Images

Middlesbrough have little more than pride to play for in their final game of the season against Watford, but Michael Carrick has made their ambitions clear.

In the midst of a run of only one defeat in 11 - their aim is to extend that to one in 12 as they look to end their season on a high and take positive momentum into a positive summer. Their longer-term aim is to then challenge for promotion next term.

With that in mind, there might be elements of looking to the future in selection and substitutions made in the game against the Hornets at the Riverside. But hoping to send the Boro fans into the summer in a positive mood, the first priority is to win the game against Tom Cleverly's side, who have lost just one of their last eight. Here's our predicted team with all that in mind.

READ MORE: Two Middlesbrough players could return for Watford but McNair may have already played final game

GK - Seny Dieng - With Tom Glover and Jamie Jones both absent through injury last weekend and likely to be this weekend too, Dieng is almost certain to start against Watford, as he would have been in any case after a really positive first season at the club.

DR - Luke Ayling - While there may be elements of looking to the future on the final day, there will be many hoping that Ayling is part of that anyway. Only on loan from Leeds United, he is out of contract in the summer and available on a free, so there is a chance this isn't his final game for the club, though there's increasing interest from other clubs too.

DC - Rav van den Berg - The Player and Young Player of the Year winner this season, as voted for by supporters, Van den Berg has enjoyed an excellent first season and Boro and has excelled because he is enjoying his football so much.

DC - Matt Clarke - After returning from such a long-term injury, the form he's shown in recent months deserves immeasurable credit. Dael Fry has returned to training this week and might be able to play some part on Saturday. But it will likely be the successful centre-back pairing of recent weeks that continues.

DL - Alex Bangura - While Luke Thomas has started the last two in the absence of Lukas Engel, Alex Bangura has been back in training for a number of weeks now and had a strong 20-minute cameo against Leeds United. It will depend on his fitness but, with little future for loanee Thomas, it would be a real boost if Bangura was able to start this one, with development for next season in mind.

CM - Jonny Howson - Though out of contract this summer, Carrick gave the strongest indication yet that Howson will still be a Boro player next season, expressing his opinion that this won't be his final game for the club. Howson, who was voted Players' Player of the Year, has also said he can't see any reason why a new deal won't be agreed.

CM - Dan Barlaser - Barlaser was a surprise inclusion ahead of loanee Lewis O'Brien last weekend against Cardiff City and played very well in that game, as Carrick seemingly started to think about next season. With that in mind, we're going with Barlaser again. But after a season of being regularly around the first-team, and after an extended spell on the pitch last weekend, there's also a slight feeling that Scholar of the Year Law McCabe might be handed his first start.

RW - Isaiah Jones - Boro aren't blessed with forward options due to injuries. Isaiah Jones has already committed his future to the club though and will most likely start this game before thoughts turn towards preparing for what will hopefully be a really strong campaign for the academy graduate next season.

AM - Alex Gilbert - It's not been the easiest of seasons for Alex Gilbert but, handed his first start last weekend at Cardiff, he grasped the opportunity with both hands with an excellent display he capped with a goal. He more than deserves another opportunity to shine.

LW - Finn Azaz - Quite possibly his best performance in a Boro shirt to date, Azaz left Cardiff with a goal and two assists as he continues to show signs of improvements brought about by growing connections with team-mates. He'll no doubt be given one final chance to shine and hopefully take positive form into next season.

ST - Emmanuel Latte Lath - Speaking of ending the season in fine form, Latte Lath goes into this game on the back of ten goals in 11 goals. With seven of them coming in April, the Ivorian won Championship Player of the Month on Friday morning and will be hungry for at least one more goal.