MIDDLESBROUGH’S title-chasing players could be facing a couple of busy days on the training pitches at Rockliffe.
Aitor Karanka, known for his in-depth preparations, will leave no stone unturned in his bid to sharpen up his side ahead of Saturday’s visit to Sheffield Wednesday.
The head coach saw his team go from one of their most dominant displays in his reign on Teesside against Leeds United last weekend to one of his worst in the midweek match with Bolton Wanderers.
Both games finished with 1-0 scorelines, but the “best” against Leeds ended in defeat, while the “worst” at home to the Trotters brought three points.
“Every point in this league is important, so to win was vital,” said Karanka, who says he is not worried that Boro are only scraping through games.
“No, I am not concerned because we won, but I will analyse the game.”
The Spaniard has much to be satisfied about.
While many, many chances have been spurned over the last 180 minutes and he felt Boro “showed a lack of vision” against Bolton, the side’s defence was back to being watertight.
It was Boro’s 15th clean sheet in the Sky Bet Championship, the best record in the division.
Karanka’s side also boast the meanest defence by a country mile, conceding only 22 goals, meaning they have an impressive goal difference of 28.
However, their total of 50 goals is the lowest in the top six.
But Karanka says he is looking for sharpness from his players at both ends of the park.
“I am very condfident with my players but they have to improve and they have to concentrate,” he said.
“I want my defenders to show concentration, as I do my strikers for scoring goals.”
Karanka, as he is in the habit of doing, rotated his starting line-up in midweek, making four changes from the XI he sent out against Leeds.
Boro visit Hillsborough this Saturday, when there could be starts for Adam Forshaw and Kike.