"After not playing for two months then to have two games in four of five days was tough on the legs, but I'm coping!"

Ahead lies what by Championship standards is a quiet period with games eight days apart, after that it's full on for a month.

"I have no complaints about that," says the Belgian defender on loan from Leicester. "I came to play football and that's what I'm doing. I like what I have seen, yes it has been a little frustrating, but there is so much promise here."

Next up is Boro's shortest journey of the season, the 140-mile round trip to Leeds.

"I've heard from the lads this is a pretty big game for the fans," says De Laet, "but for us this is the next opportunity to get three points.

"It is important to give something back to the fans after what we thought were two disappointing results, even though we are top of the table.

"We dominated on Tuesday (at MK Dons), but couldn't find that final pass. But it's the goals we have been conceding that have disappointing us. This is a results-based game, if we win 1-0 or 3-2 it doesn't matter. Leicester are a very good example, they probably don't see too much of the ball and win.

"Tuesday was similar to Saturday against Blackburn. Teams know the talent and ability in the Boro squad and are maybe scared of getting hit on the break. But we can't give them something to hold on to like we have in the last couple of games.

"We have been on a good run before, clearly, and every team in the Championship goes through spells where things are quite working for you, everyone. But we're not in a bad position for a team not entirely happy with the way it is playing."