GARETH Southgate has sung the praises of Middlesbrough and boss Aitor Karanka.
Southgate is bringing his England U21 to the Riverside in the spring to take on mighty Germany in a big international friendly.
The former Boro captain and manager has Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson and Boro’s on-loane Chelsea prospect Patrick Bamford in his nationa squad.
Southgate, still viewed as a hero on Teesside for his great displays at the heart of the Boro defence, is thrilled by the current buoyant state of the Riverside.
“With Middlesbrough going as well as they are, there is a good feeling up there,” said the 44-year-old.
“I think they are going to be really strong contenders for promotion.
“Aitor [Karanka] is doing a really good job.
“He has been very supportive of what we are doing and really helpful with Ben [Gibson], Patrick [Bamford] and Jamal Blackman as well as boys at other age groups.
“Historically, Middlesbrough have been a great provider of young players for us, and that’s continuing now.”