Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna is aware that opponents Middlesbrough will need to ‘give everything for the win’ at Portman Road tomorrow if they’re to keep their hopes of a top-six finish alive.

Michael Carrick’s men currently sit ninth in the Championship table, six points behind Norwich City in the last play-off spot. On top of that, Coventry City and Preston North End, who occupy seventh and eighth place respectively, both boast games in hand.

It means that Boro need an incredibly strong finale, if not a perfect run of four wins from four games, to be in with a shout of achieving their goal.

With the Blues boasting a one-point lead ahead of third-place Leeds United in the automatic promotion race, there’s going to be a lot on the line in Suffolk tomorrow afternoon, setting up for an exciting clash between two attack-minded teams.

“They’re on a really good run and in good form,” McKenna said. “They’re unbeaten in maybe eight league games or something like that, and they’ve had a couple of really tough away games at Southampton at Hull in there where they’ve competed very well in both.

“They’ve had some very strong home performances and they’ve got a really good team available for selection with players back fit and performing to a high level.

East Anglian Daily Times: The manager highlighted Boro's form and squad depthThe manager highlighted Boro's form and squad depth (Image: PA)

“Of course, we know plenty about them and they know plenty about us. They’ve got lots of things to admire as a football team and, realistically where they’re at in the campaign, they probably know that they need to win games.

“They might need to win all their games, so we know they’re going to come here, give it everything for the win and leave it all out there. That should make for a really exciting game between two good teams.

“It should be a really good match.”

It looked unlikely that Middlesbrough were going to compete for promotion this season, having struggled in the first half of the campaign after reaching the play-offs last season and losing numerous key players over the summer.

It took a while for some of their new recruits to hit their best, and McKenna believes that their January business may have played a crucial part in their resurgence.

“That’s always important for every club, whatever your goal is,” he explained. “If you can add in January, it helps.

“Luke Ayling is a really experienced defender, he’s given them cover in that area of the pitch and started pretty much all the games for them. I think they’ve got a really good team, to be honest.

East Anglian Daily Times: McKenna is set to face Michael Carrick for the second time in his managerial careerMcKenna is set to face Michael Carrick for the second time in his managerial career (Image: PA)

“Finn Azaz is a talent that we know really well. I think they’ve got good individuals and they’re very well coached. They’re a good team.”

Of course, the match sees McKenna face Carrick in a clash between two former Manchester United coaches, with the Town manager coming out on the right side of a 2-0 win at the Riverside Stadium when they first squared off in December.

A lot has changed in this time, but the Northern Irishman has stressed that his relationship with the Boro boss remains strong – even if it has to be put aside for 90 minutes during tomorrow’s game.

“He’s someone I consider a really good friend - a fantastic person,” McKenna stated. “He’s been following a lot of our games and wishing us the best.

“I’ll regularly do the same for him and his games, but of course, this weekend we’ll both be trying to help our players and our football clubs compete for a very important result.”