DIMI Konstantopoulos has been handed the chance to keep possession of the Middlesbrough goalkeeper’s gloves.
The former Hartlepool United promotion hero will tonight make his second Sky Bet Championship start of the season when he lines up in goal for Boro at Cardiff City (kick-off 7.45pm).
Konstantopoulos played a key role in Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town after taking over from Tomas Mejias who had been rule out with a bad back.
But Boro boss Aitor Karanka has revealed he planned to play the giant Greek anyway at the John Smith’s Stadium.
And Karanka says the number one jersey is now Dimi’s to keep on a long-term basis – providing he maintains his form.
“Tomas has had his chance and now Dimi will stay in the team if he plays well,” said the Spaniard, who had selected his compatriot in the league and Konstantopoulos in the Capital One Cup so far this season.
“I have to choose the best XI and now I think Dimi is better for us than Tomas.
“I think Dimi is the keeper who now transmits more confidence and the players on the pitch feel more confident with him.
“I have no doubt that Tomas is a very good goalkeeper, he showed last season that he can play here (in England).
“But he’s had his chance and he has to work again to win another chance.
“If Dimi is playing well and the team is playing well and winning games then he is the first person and Tomas will understand my decision.”
On-loan Jamal Blackman will again be on the bench at Cardiff City Stadium tonight.
Konstantopoulos will be the final barrier of a Boro side who head to Wales full of confidence.
The Teessiders played some fine football in the win at Huddersfield, although they left it very late to take all three points thanks to an injury-time Grant Leadbitter penalty.
With Cardiff throwing away a two-goal lead on the same day to lose 4-2 at home to fellow relegated side Norwich, it would appear a good time to be visiting City, especially with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming under fire in some quarters.
But Karanka says there can be no thought of complacency from his team who are one point and four spots above the 15th-placed Bluebirds.
“They are a team who will be in a high position at the end of the season,” the Boro chief told www.mfc.co.uk.
“In this moment I think they will be more dangerous.
“They had a defeat on Saturday and they will want to put that behind them against us.
“All games in this league are difficult – Cardiff are a good team, they have a great ground and a very good manager.
“If we think we are gong to have an easy game because they lost on Saturday we are going to be making a big mistake.”