AITOR Karanka stressed the importance of the point Middlesbrough picked up at Wigan Athletic.
Sub Patrick Bamford’s cool finish secured a 1-1 draw in Lancashire that keeps Boro third and just three points off Championship pacesetters Derby County.
Karanka agreed his side’s performance was a shadow of recent games but says the point against Malky Mackay’s Latics cannot go unvalued.
“This point is important and I’m sure Wigan with a new manager will go up the table,” he told SportMail.“We said we were going to play against a very good team and their positon is a surprise in the table.
“With a new manager you never know (what to expect) but I said two things – one that the players were going to be so motivated under a new manager, and two they were going to be very organised.
“The pitch wasn’t in good condition for us to play football and we weren’t strong enough in the first half, we didn’t win enough second balls.
“The second half we were better and we drew the game. It’s an important point for us.”
Adam Clayton and Lee Tomlin both had credible penalty appeals waved away, the former being fouled with what looked in the box but a free-kick just outside the area was instead awarded.
Karanka refused to be critical of referee David Webb: “Adam was outside of the box, from my point of view. I was far away but I don’t think it was a penalty.”
Bamford’s equaliser was the only time that Boro really troubled Scott Carson but calls for the Chelsea loan star to start more games will not influence Karanka’s decision.
He remains committed to squad rotation and carefully pondering his XI. “The players who I have for this division I am very pleased with because they are all ready to play,” he said.
“It’s a difficult decision (naming a team on a Saturday) but I prefer to arrive to my office on Friday with doubt of which players to pick because they’re all playing very well.
“Patrick’s scoring goals, Kike didn’t score but he assisted and Jelle Vossen can go to the pitch and score. This is good for me.
“It’s good to have another seven players (on the bench) to play.”
Adam Clayton collected his fifth booking of the campaign but Karanka is at ease with the midfielder’s one-game suspension: “We have Emilio Nsue, Deano (Whitehead), different players to change the shape of the side. He’s an important player but we have other players to play.”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Ledesma has joined Rotherham United on loan.