AITOR Karanka has refused to get involved in the Malky Mackay controversy, insisting Wigan side will be even more of a threat tomorrow now the Scot has taken charge.a
Boro take on the Latics, who are marooned in 22nd place, at the DW Stadium (kick off 3pm) with spotlight firmly focused on chairman Dave Whelan’s decision to appoint Mackay as the club’s new manager.
The former Cardiff boss is accused of sending alleged racist and anti-semitic text exchanges during his time in South Wales and is currently under FA investigation.
Karanka was not to be drawn on the issue, instead saying that the new-manager-syndrome is Boro’s biggest worry.
He said: “It’s going to be a difficult game because when one team changes the manager the first game the players are more motivated and they want to impress him.
“Everybody will want to play.
“The crowd are going to be helping them too.
“It will be the same feeling as when we played Huddersfield (in September, a 2-1 Boro win) so we have to think about ourselves and the kind of team that we have.
“We have to be intelligent and we have to play in the way we want to play – consistent with the ball and quick.”
Boro, third in the table and without defeat in two months, will go top of the Championship on Saturday with a victory and should Bournemouth and Derby both fail to win.
And Karanka has once again been grateful for the two-week international break.
“It was very good because we could train on the training ground, we could rest,” he told BBC Tees.
“It was good and when you have a lot of games you need these breaks.
“It’s the last one until March so we have to keep fighting in the same way.”
As for the run-up to Christmas, midweek games are not to be encountered until the hectic festive schedule.
“We’ve had a lot of games but in the following weeks we have just one match so we can train on the training ground, manage the players better,” he said.
Ben Gibson picked up an ankle injury during England U21’s 3-2 defeat to France on Monday but he should be able to resume his partnership with Daniel Ayala.
Kenneth Omerou, however, is not expected to make the game as he is en-route back from international duty with Nigeria who failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations.
“Thinking selfishly, it’s good for me and the club but I can understand that Ken will be disappointed because it’s very important for the players to play in these tournaments,” the Spaniard said.
“He’ll be happy to be here because he’s the kind of player who likes to be involved with the team.”