Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Boro boss looking to add new faces ahead of deadline
MIDDLESBROUGH’S players returned to training for another double session yesterday and head coach Aitor Karanka wants a new face or two at Rockliffe Park before the end of the week.
The Northern Echo understands Boro are pursuing different leads in the hope of adding to Karanka's squad before Saturday's visit of Bolton, with the goalkeeper position known to be one area under serious consideration.
Karanka was encouraged by Boro’s display at Elland Road on Saturday despite losing 2-1 to Leeds United after goalkeeper Jason Steele had been red carded.
Not only will Steele miss Karanka’s first home game in charge against Bolton, the shot-stopper will also be absent for next week’s trips to Derby County and Birmingham City.
Middlesbrough's decision makers are weighing up the possibilities to come in on loan, although Karanka was satisfied with the manner in which Jayson Leutwiler handled himself after his introduction against Leeds.
If Leutwiler, signed from Switzerland club Basel last year on a free, is given the nod then it will be only the second start he has made in the Championship.
Greek goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos will push him all the way for the right to cover for Steele, but it is understood there could be a new signing before Saturday.
Konstantopoulos is yet to play a game for Middlesbrough since signing in August after leaving AEK Athens. The 34-year-old was a big hit during four years at Hartlepool United before he left in 2007 to join Coventry City.
The Thessaloniki-born then went on to have spells with Swansea, Cardiff and AEK, where he earned a call-up for his country as well as playing in the Europa League.
Karanka is carefully assessing the credentials of both of the men he could call on over the next ten days, knowing that the window for emergency loans is edging closer tomorrow night.
The 40-year-old Spaniard has indicated he is happy to give the players he has inherited an opportunity to shine under him before making too many changes too soon.
However, it is believed there have been a couple of opportunities to add to the squad which have tempted the club to move.
With January just five weeks away, the former Real Madrid assistant manager wants those he already has on the training ground to prove they deserve to be part of a longer term plan.
He adopted a similar system to that used regularly by Tony Mowbray at Leeds, but he is determined to get the players playing with greater intensity both in and out of possession.
That is the message he has been relaying on the training ground since he took over and that is what he wants to see from the squad he has inherited in the build up to January.
And while there is a good chance that a late signing on the loan front before tomorrow night could happen, he is in no great rush to do something if he does not feel it will right for the club.
Karanka is also reluctant to let players leave at this stage, while Blackburn Rovers continue to keep an eye on striker Lukas Jutkiewicz.
As well as monitoring the first team squad he had back in yesterday for morning and afternoon sessions closely, Karanka is also being kept informed of progress made by some of the club’s younger players out on loan.
The Middlesbrough boss granted Matty Dolan an extension yesterday to stay at Hartlepool until January 4’s trip to Southend United. Dolan remains with fellow Boro player Christian Burgess.
That follows on from the decision to allow Adam Reach to stay at Shrewsbury for a similar period of time. Luke Williams is also expected back from his three-week stay with Atletico Madrid along with Bradley Fewster and Bryn Morris.
Whatever team Karanka fields for the first home game of his reign against Bolton, Middlesbrough hope to boast a seasonal high attendance.
Supporters have been quick to take up the offer of cut-price tickets - £12 for adults and £7 for concessions – and indications are that there will be more than 22,000 fans who turned up to watch a 4-0 win over Doncaster in Mark Venus’ first game in caretaker charge.