MIDDLESBROUGH’S squad depth and the quality of personnel is leaving boss Aitor Karanka optimistic after almost a quarter of the season.
Boro host Blackpool tonight (kick off 7.45pm) with the chance of making it five games unbeaten and extending the visitors winless start to the season to ten games.
Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Charlton was impressive given last week’s 120-minute effort at Liverpool which meant Karanka rotated his squad once more, leaving out the normally irreplaceable Grant Leadbitter.
Having first-team players in reserve is making the Spanish manager’s job easier: “When you have a very good squad like I have it is pleasing,” he said.
“It is my life, I am thinking about football 24 hours a day. It is my work. I am very happy. I am pleased because after nine games we can see and watch a consistent team, a good team, and we have a very good squad as we are playing with a lot of players.
“We have injuries, suspensions and the players who are playing are brilliant. For this reason we have to keep working in the same way.
“We have to keep the same intensity. When we work with this intensity and consistency we have a lot of players to score goals.”
The 4-0 hammering of Brentford just ten days ago is the benchmark which Karanka says his side must replicate.
“It is the best since I came,” he said. “If we want to get something this season we have to play the way we did against Brentford and Birmingham at the beginning of the season.
“We have to play 120 per cent again.
“If we want to do something good this season we have to win the games at home.”
Albert Adomah misses out because of his red card at Charlton at the weekend, while Dean Whitehead serves his final match of his three-game ban. Striker Jelle Vossen (hamstring) is doubtful.