Middlesbrough hope to have central defender Matthew Kilgallon in the squad for the npower Championship clash with Sheffield United.

The Teessiders are working to finalise the 26-year-old's loan switch from neighbours Sunderland in time for him to be available.

However, skipper Gary O'Neil, who played the second half of last Saturday's 0-0 draw at Leicester, is struggling with illness and a knee problem.

Manager Gordon Strachan has been hit too by the loss of defender Seb Hines, who has suffered a reaction to his first 90 minutes since last September on his return from a serious ankle injury for the reserves in midweek, and he is to see a specialist.

Kevin Thomson (fractured fibula), Willo Flood (dislocated knee), Jonathan Franks (herniated disc) and Rhys Williams (pelvic injury) remain on the sidelines, although Tony McMahon (thigh) has returned to training.

Sheffield United manager Gary Speed is expected to make changes for his first game in charge.

Speed, installed as Kevin Blackwell's permanent replacement on Tuesday, will be without striker Darius Henderson and defender Ryan France (both knee) and midfielder Lee Williamson (back) while Nyron Nosworthy (unspecified knock) is unlikely to be included.

Young pair Jordan Chappell and Kingsley James, both included in the matchday squad already this season, could feature in Speed's plans after impressing for the reserves again, while defender Matthew Lowton sits out the last game of his three-match ban.

Fans will be hoping Speed can steer their side to their first win of the season following an opening-day draw at Cardiff and last Saturday's home defeat to QPR, which hastened Blackwell's exit.

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