Middlesbrough boss in Jordan Rhodes warning

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has warned Blackburn that Jordan Rhodes may only need a minute to fire his new club back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table.

The 26-year-old striker, who completed a £9million switch from Ewood Park during the transfer window, has been used as a substitute in three of his five appearances for Boro, scoring one goal.

He was given just 11 minutes by Karanka in Saturday's 2-0 win at Fulham and will hope for a place in the starting line-up against his former employers, although his new boss was giving little away as he contemplated a number of selection decisions before the trip west.

Asked if the script was written for Rhodes to score the winner against his former employers, the Spaniard said: "Yes - but he can play one minute to score the winning goal.

"In this league, it's 94, 95, 96 minutes, so I have to think because I have an amazing squad and I have to think about the team and the squad."

Rhodes may not have made the most of his openings since heading to Teesside, but Karanka insists the Scotland striker remains a work in progress, and that he is happy with his contribution so far.

He said: "He is the first to know he is training in a completely different way, he is playing in a completely different way and it always takes time.

"We are really pleased with him - I especially am really pleased with him - because everybody was expecting goals from him.

"He has had chances and he hasn't scored those chances, but he is working really well for the team and the team is winning games, so for that reason, I am really pleased with him.

"He understands perfectly his situation."

Boro would return to the summit with victory at Blackburn after ending a winless five-game run with back-to-back successes over Cardiff and Fulham.

Karanka will have key midfielder Adam Clayton back after suspension, but central defender Daniel Ayala remains missing due to an ankle problem.

Blackburn have eased their fears of being dragged into a relegation battle with wins from two of their last three league games, the second victory coming at the weekend when Jordi Gomez's late strike secured a 3-2 triumph over MK Dons.

But the three points came at a cost with top scorer Ben Marshall suffering a knee injury and fellow midfielder Corry Evans picking up an ankle problem, and both men are being assessed.