MIDDLESBROUGH go into tomorrow’s game against Charlton Athletic (kick off 3pm) with a squad of players committed to fulfilling the club’s promotion aspirations.
Boro got to keep George Friend and Lee Tomlin, despite interest from West Brom and Crystal Palace.
With Aitor Karanka already having acquired the services of Adam Forshaw, Monday night was a quiet night on Teesside – just how Karanka liked it.
“I was calm because we did our homework one week before with Adam Forshaw,” he said.
“Everybody was a little bit concerned in case some players left because Premier League clubs wanted them.
“I don’t know anything (of offers) but it wasn’t a surprise because George for sure can play for a lot of Premier League teams because he is one of the club’s most committed players.
“I was calm because all of them believe in the project and in the club.
“This is the main thing for me that everyone is committed.
“The attitude is perfect from everybody, not just from the players who are playing, but all those who are in the squad as well.
“I’m very pleased to live in the moment because the people of the club are excited with the club and we have an amazing month in front of us.”
The month Karanka references is a testing one. Bottom-of-the-table Blackpool follow tomorrow’s game against the Addicks before the rest of the month contains the FA Cup fifth round tie at Arsenal and Championship games against mid-table outfits.
The hectic schedule is when the squad depth that Karanka has accrued will pay dividends but he knows that their promotion ambitions could equally derail over the forthcoming three weeks.
“Football can change very quickly,” he said.
“We are playing really well and winning matches but we now have seven games in 21 days and that is a going to be a difficult month for us.
“It’s not my style to prepare for the game against Blackpool when I don’t know the performance from Saturday.
“I don’t know what is going to happen, we can have an injury or suspension.
“I prepare to be concentrated on Charlton and then work on the Blackpool game. I know the squad knows how difficult this game is going to be and they have been training very well.
“I’m a little bit concerned because the crowd think it will be an easy game but I’m not expecting that because I was analysing them and they are organised.”
– CHRIS BELL