Karanka set to recall Jelle Vossen for Birmingham City v Middlesbrough

SET TO START: Jelle Vossen
SET TO START: Jelle Vossen

JELLE Vossen could make an immediate return to the Middlesbrough line-up against Birmingham tomorrow after the striker’s pace was missed against Arsenal.

The Belgian had to contend with a largely quiet 35 minute second-half appearance during the 2-0 FA Cup fifth round loss to the Gunners despite starting in midweek against Blackpool and catching the eye against Manchester City in the fourth round.

The absence of the on-loan Genk man’s quickness in the first-half and a lack of support for Kike means that boss Aitor Karanka is likely to opt for the front man from the start against the Blues at St Andrews.

Ryan Fredericks is among those who picked up slight knocks at the Emirates, with Karanka admitting that he is set to change his personnel.

The importance of squad rotation is especially important in the current period as Boro have Saturday-midweek-Saturday games for the next three weeks.

“We have five games in two weeks,” the Spaniard told SportMail.

“I need to assess how they are (fitness levels) and I will select the best eleven.”

Karanka voiced his frustration at how deep Boro played against Arsene Wenger’s outfit and with the heavy schedule he may be tempted to hand recent signing Adam Forshaw a place in central midfield.

In typical Karanka-speak, the former Real Madrid assistant manager is insisting that all focus is back on reclaiming top-spot in the Championship which previous incumbents Bournemouth reclained at the weekend with Derby and Boro both in FA Cup action.

Arsenal, he says, is now forgotten.

He added: “We’ve lost an important game against Arsenal but it’s nothing critical.

“We now have to recover well for the match against Birmingham which we are looking forward to.

“The Birmingham game is now the most important.”