Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren admitted his side missed the experience of several key players after they were well beaten by Manchester United.
McClaren said: "We need players like George Boateng, Chris Riggott, Ugo Eghiou, Mark Viduka.
"When we haven't got them we need a bit of luck and we didn't have that.
"It's going to be hard to get fourth, but we've come a long way from last season. We're up there with a half a season to go and it's all to play for."