Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka eager for his side to show some steel against Leeds United

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.

Middlesbrough will be showing their support for Teesside steelworkers tomorrow when they take on Leeds United.

The Boro squad will wear ‘Save our Steel’ T-shirts in the warm-up at the Riverside to show solidarity to the men and women at the under-threat SSI plant at Redcar.

And head coach Aitor Karanka will be looking for his players to show their own steel as well as style tomorrow (kick-off 1.15pm).

Boro have won six matches in a row, including four in the Championship, to stand second in the table, just three points behind leaders Brighton.

While Boro can’t stop winning, Karanka says the incredibly competitive nature of the promotion race means it’s vital they extend the sequence in this Yorkshire battle.

“Last season was very, very tight,” said the Spaniard.

“I expected this season to be even tighter, there are the teams who have been relegated and sides like Derby and Ipswich who did not win promotion last year.

“There are nine or 10 teams fighting for the (promotion) positions.

“We are playing well, winning ames and we have to keep that going in the same way.

“All the players are playing really well and have a good attitude.”

But despite the cracking form, Karanka believes his side can keep getting better.

“Of course,” he said. “I am really pleased with my squad and they are giving me their best.

“But this is only September and we can improve every single day.”

Boro are up against a bogey side tomorrow.

Last year, Leeds did the double over Boro, winning 1-0 on each occasion, while Karanka could only take a point from United in his debut season on Teesside.

“Leeds are always difficult, we never beat them,” said Karanka.

“I could not beat them the last four times we’ve played them, but the teams are different now.

“I have prepared for this game as we do every match.

“I have analysed the game, their weaknesses and strengths and now I have to try to beat them.”

Karanka said it was important to support the SOS campaign and says he wants to send the fans home with a smile on their faces tomorrow.

“Football gives the fans good emotions,” he said.

“When people are watching football, they are forgetting their problems.

“It’s amazing for us to have 20,000 fans supporting us and I want them to leave the stadium happy.”

Keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos will return tomorrow after being rested in the 3-0 midweek Capital One Cup win against Wolves.

Karanka has been given food for thought after good displays by Kike, Adam Forshaw and new signing Carlos de Pena, who made his debut against their Championship rivals.

All three could be in contention tomorrow.