Karanka ponders Barragan replacement for Manchester United trip

Boro's Antonio Barragan is suspended for the visit to Manchester United. Picture by Tom Collins
Boro's Antonio Barragan is suspended for the visit to Manchester United. Picture by Tom Collins

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is mulling over a replacement for suspended right-back Antonio Barragan in tomorrow’s tricky Premier League trip to Manchester United.

Barragan, 29, has impressed since signing from Valencia in the summer, and has played in every league match so far.

A fifth booking of the season at Burnley on Boxing Day, though, keeps him out at Old Trafford.

Karanka said of his fellow Spaniard: “We have a lot of players who can play in that position.

“We can play with Fabio, Calum Chambers or with Emilio Nsue.

“So we have more than one who can replace Antonio.”

Viktor Fischer is Boro’s only injury absentee for their tough task against on-form United, and Karanka is happy with the options available.

“I know how difficult it can be to play two games in such a short time,” he said.

“But other teams in the league have the same task and it is my job to manage that situation. We have to be careful, but every single point is important so once again I will put out the best team to win each game.”

Boro have been linked with a move for tall Aston Villa striker Rudy Gestede, but Karanka refused to discuss his ideas going into the transfer window. “The transfer window opens in January and I’m not looking beyond Saturday’s game,” he said.

Karanka comes up against United boss Jose Mourinho, having been assistant to the Portuguese in his reign at Real Madrid.

Asked what makes Mourinho tick, he said: “It’s a mix of everything: his knowledge, his character, his passion, his personality – he has a lot of things.

“The way that he prepares the game is the best; the way that he trains is the best; the way that he is in the changing room is the best, so it’s a lot of things and for that reason, he is the best.”