AITOR Karanka is to welcome the impending international break gracefully – so his players can recover, writes CHRIS BELL.
Middlesbrough host Fulham at the Riverside tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) to conclude a run of seven games in just three weeks.
Boro drew a disappointing 1-1 with Blackpool in midweek but are unbeaten with three wins in their past five league games.
The two-week break that follows the match with the Cottagers will enable the Teessiders to rest before working hard on the Rockliffe Park training pitches.
“I will be very pleased (for the break) as everyone needs a rest,” he told BBC Tees.
“It’s been a busy, busy month with a lot of intensity games in the league and cup.
“The last international break (at the beginning of September) was good to work on the pitch and if we want to recover the players who have been playing the last month then we can now.
“We can also work on the pitch again.
“It’s good to take your time to different things.
“The league finishes in May. It is a very long season and you have to have this kind of rest.”
A Fulham win would move them out of the relegation places for the first time of a so far turbulent season.
Karanka said that “now is the real Fulham” and that “the wrong Fulham is in the past.”
Aware of the Londoner’s eagerness to steer away from the bottom three, it is therefore a relief as much as a boost that Karanka will be able to select Dean Whitehead once more who has served his suspension.
He added: “Deano is a kind of player who I am very pleased to have in my squad as they are always ready to play.
“He is a player who sometimes I miss on the pitch with his character.
“I would like to have 22 players with the same character as Deano as you can be better player or worse player but the character which Deano has is very important for me.”
Striker Jelle Vossen (hamstring) remains a doubt but Albert Adomah is back from his one-game suspension.