Midfielder James McCarthy was pulled off in the second half of the weekend game against Bournemouth due to a pull in an upper hip muscle. It is no coincidence that his leaving the pitch was about the same time that the hosts started camping in the Everton half, resulting in the 2-0 lead evaporating and the final 3-3 scoreline. He will face a late fitness test before the game to determine if he will play or not.
Fellow pivot Gareth Barry picked up a knock on the shin during the same game but played through it to the finish. He will also be evaluated at gametime before manager Roberto Martinez announces his starting lineup.
With no European football cluttering up the schedule, Barry has been a revelation this season. When fresh he has shown himself to be the perfect anchor to allow McCarthy to push further up alongside Ross Barkley as they play the high press.
If neither midfielder is deemed fit, Darron Gibson and Muhamed Bešić could form the midfield axis for the Blues away at Middlesbrough.
Left back Leighton Baines is expected back into the matchday squad, but is unlikely to start. The England international has been sidelined with ankle ailments since May 9th, and will be making his first appearance on the bench for the Blues since then.
Club captain Phil Jagielka, Bryan Oviedo, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar all remain sidelined for the near future.