Middlesbrough ready to battle Ipswich to stay on top

ON THE MARK: Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford celebrates after scoring  at the DW Stadium
ON THE MARK: Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford celebrates after scoring at the DW Stadium

AITOR Karanka knows Middlesbrough cannot afford to take their foot off the accelerator if they are to stay in the Sky Bet Championship’s promotion zone.

After defeating previous leaders Derby County last Saturday to go second, Boro have another six-pointer at Ipswich Town tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

If Boro win at Portman Road, they are guaranteed to go into Christmas in the top two.

But, should they lose, Ipswich will overtake them and with leaders Bournemouth playing at doomed Blackpool, Boro would almost certainly find themselves in the play-offs.

Boro are in stunning form after seven goals on the last two Saturdays and Karanka wants more of the same.

“Everyone is full of confidence after the last two victories against Millwall and Derby,” said the head coach.

“But they are now in the past and we need to think about going to Ipswich and winning because this is the league and we need to add points as soon as possible.

“When we look at the league table we are very proud but it is no coincidence.

“We have worked very hard to achieve this position.

“We have to working in the same way because the future is the main thing.

“This is a very good position for us, but we have to fight for more and the players want more.”

Ipswich are in great touch themselves under Mick McCarthy.

The former Sunderland boss has taken Town up to third with an unbeaten eight-match run of six wins and two draws.

“It is another interesting game,” Karanka told BBC Tees.

“It will be a very hard game against a typical Championship team.

“They have quality and are strong, it will be a test for us.

“Mick McCarthy is a successful manager.

“But last week we beat the best team in the league and the most successful manager in this club’s history and we have to keep going in our way.”

Much has been said and written about managers wanting a mid-season break.

Tomorrow marks the start of three games in eight days over the festive period, so would the Spaniard prefer a break?

“No,” said Karanka. “I have happy memories.

“I enjoyed Christmas last year because that was when we started winning games, we’d had a bad November but a very good December and January.

“I’d like to repeat that.”

Boro have no injury concerns but Karanka has never been shy to alter a winning team.

It would be hard to see him omitting in-form Patrick Bamford but the head coach could include Kike.