Middlesbrough v Tottenham: I still don’t know my best teams, admits Boro boss Karanka

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Steve Mandanda comes under pressure from Stewart Downing in Boro's last home match. Picture by Tom Collins.

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Steve Mandanda comes under pressure from Stewart Downing in Boro's last home match. Picture by Tom Collins.

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Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has admitted that he has having difficulty with team selection – because he doesn’t know his best team.

Boro welcome third-top Tottenham Hotspur to the Riverside tomorrow afternoon (3pm kick-off) on the back of two successive defeats.

Karanka’s team have won only once since their return to the Premier League – the 2-1 victory at Sunderland in August – and the Spanish boss is finding it hard deciding who to play.

“It’s difficult as I have 23 players close to each other,” he said.

“I didn’t want to bring in an amazing player and someone not as good in the same position. I like to have the same quality in each position.

“It’s good as everyone wants to play and have the same quality.

“Last season, I had a lot of games and did changes as people needed to rest, but now it’s not a fitness point of view, it’s finding the best 11.

“I have to find the best 11 to beat Tottenham.”

Despite their outstanding defensive record in the Championship, Boro have conceded goals through mishaps at the back in the last two games.

However, Karanka insists that he isn’t worried and that the errors will be corrected.

“It’s obviously disappointing when you concede and they come from mistakes,” he said.

“But it’s not to be concerned, we have to fix them.

““We are now against some of the best teams and they’re taking advantage of our mistakes.”

The four-game winless streak will be hard to break against Spurs, but Karanka remains optimistic.

He added: ““It’ll be a tough game against an unbeaten team – we have to learn from mistakes made in the past and try to win at home.

“We’ve only won one in five, but the only game we were a bit lost in was the last game.

“This season is the first I’m losing games and have to fight for other aims.

“It’s my first time, but when you have squad like I have and, in a club like I am, I have to stay confident.

“We have to keep going, know we will lose more games than last season, but stay calm.”

Tottenham are without Harry Kane, who has an ankle injury, while Boro welcome back Jordan Rhodes and Cristhian Stuani.

Meanwhile, ex-Sunderland loan star Danny Rose is looking forward to growing old with Spurs after signing a new five-year contract.

The left-back, 26, joined from Leeds nine years ago and has made 93 league appearances, scoring seven goals.