MIDDLESBROUGH have been training to nulify the threat of tomorrow’s opponents Watford.
Boss Aitor Karanka has been schooled in the style of play the Hornets utilise and with play-off hopes resting on the mid-table clash, the away game is viewed as vital.
That is why the Rockliffe Park training pitches have been centred around Watford’s style of game (3pm kick off).
Karanka told BBC Tees: “It’s difficult but it’s not an excuse because we have had one week to train and we have trained very well.
“They play to a different style, with three at the back, and we have been working here this week to play against that.
“We need to win the game to have expectations til the end of the season.
“If we lose again, the league can be very long for us and I want to keep the concentration until the last game.
“We need to do everything 100 per cent if we want to win.”
Ill-fated misses in front of goal have proved a problem recently but with Danny Graham spearheading the attack, Karanka can not foresight such blanks continuing.
He went on: “We have been practising shooting and I hope we recover our confidence with scoring goals.
“It’s confidence, sometimes the strikers score goals with their hair, their knee, their ankle and other times it’s impossible to score.
“This time I expect our players to score goals.
“The most important thing for Danny is not to make him crazy about goals, goals will come for players like him.
“With his quality the goals will arrive.
“When I watch his videos I knew like him as a player.
“A lot of people told me about his personality and his career here and now I’m feeling that.”
Meanwhile, Boro’s loan signing until the end of the season, 25-year-old Real Madrid stopper Tomas Mejias Osorio goes straight into contention.
His signature has pleased the Spaniard: “He is here to challenge for the goalkeeping position.
“He is a strong keeper and has a lot of potential.
“It’s a very good experience and a very good chance to take a position in the first XI.
“We have another keeper to fight for the position.”
Boro have had the benefit of the considerable presence of on-loan stopper Shay Given between the sticks.
He has been key to Boro’s recent miserly mood with three clean sheets in a row and eight in the last 10 Sky Bet Championship games.
But the Irishman returns to Aston Villa at the end of this month, prompting Karanka to return to his former club for a helping hand.
Former Pools promotion winner Dimi Konstantopoulos is currently the keeper on the Boro bench with previous number one Jason Steele still out of the picture.