Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is refusing to look any further than this weekend’s clash against Bolton Wanderers – despite his side having one foot in the Premier League.
Boro went top of the Championship in midweek thanks to an injury-time winner by Adam Forshaw at home to Reading.
The Teessiders have five games left in order to secure promotion, with a four-point lead over third-placed Brighton, who they meet on the last day of the season.
That could be a huge match, as will Tuesday’s clash with second-placed Burnley, but Karanka says it’s the old adage – taking it one game at a time.
“I’m not looking at the last five games of the season, I am looking at one,” said the Boro head coach.
“I know the way these games can work. Everyone thinks we will get three points at Bolton because of where they are, but we know the game is not that simple.
“That game on Saturday is where our focus lies, nowhere else.”
Brighton could cut the gap on Boro to just one point tonight when they host Fulham. Regardless of that result, however, Boro will travel to Bolton as firm favourites after a 4-1 defeat at Derby last week confirmed the Trotters’ relegation to League One.
But with Chris Hughton’s side refusing to give up the chase – Brighton secured their own last-gasp win over Nottingham Forest on Monday night – Karanka wants his men to keep their focus.
“We knew how important the Reading game was,” he said. “We left it late, but we deserved to win.
“Brighton created just one or two chances in their second half the night before, we created many chances and that is very pleasing.
“We are in a really good position and the players deserve to be. Sometimes it can be lucky, like against Hull when maybe it should have been 0-0, but against Reading it was because we created a lot of chances.
“Moments like this can define a season, that happens because this team fights to the last second, but there is still much work to be done and our focus has to remain as it has all season on the next game and no more.”