Middlesbrough could gain ground on their rivals should they defeat Birmingham City at St Andrews on Wednesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
With Bournemouth dropping points at home to Huddersfield Town on Saturday and Derby County fighting back to rescue a point at Rotherham United on Tuesday, Boro have the incentive to gain ground at the top of the Championship and even a draw would be good enough to see them return to top spot.
Aitor Karanka’s side are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the league, having won five of those in a row, but did suffer defeat to Arsenal last weekend in the FA Cup.
Birmingham, on the other hand, have not won in their last five games and have scored just twice in that run.
A sequence of four draws on the bounce followed by a defeat to strugglers Millwall a week ago has seen the Blues drop back into the bottom half of the Championship.
Boro welcome back defender Tomas Kalas and midfielder Adam Forshaw who were both cup-tied for the fixture against Arsenal.
Goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos is expected to return in goal while full-back Ryan Fredericks is being assessed after picking up a knock to the ankle at the Emirates Stadium.
However, defender Daniel Ayala is out with a thigh injury which could see him sidelined for several weeks.
City boss Gary Rowett is set to hand Rob Kiernan his Birmingham debut after his loan move from Wigan Athletic.
Fellow defenders Gavin Gunning and Michael Morrison are out with knee injures, so too is striker Matt Green.
All three have stepped up their recovery with Morrison close to returning to full fitness.
Birmingham City starting XI: Randolph, Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Grounds, Davis, Gleeson, Cotterill, Shinnie, Gray, Donaldson.
Subs: Doyle, Thomas, Novak, Kiernan, Reilly, Zigic, Dyer.
Middlesbrough starting XI: Dimi, Fredericks, Omerou, Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Nsue, Tomlin, Vossen, Bamford.
Subs: Mejias, Clayton, Adomah, Husband, Whitehead, Kike, Reach.