MIDDLESBROUGH have been refining their set-piece defending in training to curb their leaky record from dead-ball situations.
Aitor Karanka’s side host Brighton tomorrow (kick off 3pm) seeking a sustained run of form that has so far evaded the team this season.
Beginning a winning run against an in-form Seagulls is likely to prove demanding, even more so given their defensive flaws.
Karanka says that defensive work has been the focus on the Rockcliffe Park training pitches this week.
He told BBC Tees: “We concede a lot of goals at set-pieces and it’s important in the Championships (that we don’t).
“We can play well for 85 minutes and then we can lose the game in the last 30 seconds because of a set-piece.
“I try to improve on the mistakes every day.
“I speak a lot with the players and (tell them) how important it is not to make a mistake.
“(We have been working on) not just the defenders but all the team’s all round play.”
Karanka had praise for his fellow Spaniard, Oscar Garcia, whose Brighton occupy tenth position.
But while he admits that Garcia is “doing a very good job” he is only focused on his efforts on Teesside and working with the players at his disposal.
He went on: “I’m happy here and I need to build my own team and I’m working on that.
“Kei (Kamara) hurt his knee last week and will e out for three or four weeks or more.
“This is bad for the team because he is the kind of player who always wants to play and he gives 100 per cent.
“But we have other players, like Lukas (Jutkiewicz) and (Curtis) Main who can play instead of him and I’m now just thinking of the players who are available.”
Shay Given is set to continue between the goalposts as Jason Steele – whose suspension is over – sits out with an ankle injury.