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Lukas looking to win back Boro place
MIDDLESBROUGH striker Lukas Jutkiewicz does not expect to be on the move on deadline day and wants to prove he deserves to lead the line under Aitor Karanka.
With the emergency loan window for Football League clubs due to close at 5pm this evening, Karanka hopes work behind-the-scenes will lead to a couple of new arrivals.
There might also be a fresh approach from Blackburn Rovers to take Jutkiewicz away from the Riverside Stadium, although such talk has not even entered the player's head.
The 24-year-old had looked on his way out when Mark Venus had taken on temporary managerial responsibility following Tony Mowbray's departure.
But Jutkiewicz, who has not started a game since Mowbray's last game in charge at Barnsley, is keen to show he has the attributes to shine under the new boss.
“I'm eager to prove to myself really,” said Jutkiewicz. “You always want to prove to supporters, team-mates, everyone really, what you can bring to a team. That hasn't changed from a few weeks ago until now.
“I have always wanted to fight for my place here. I don't anticipate anything happening before the loan window shuts. It's a case of proving to the manager and to the coaching staff that I should be in the team and to go from there.”
He added: “It's frustrating for any player when you are not in the team. I think the new manager has come in and given everyone a kick up the backside because everyone has a fight for their place again.”
Jutkiewicz was at Middlesbrough's official store in the town centre yesterday posing for photographs with fans and signing autographs along with team-mates Mustapha Carayol.
He will be back on the training ground this morning looking to impress in the hope of an opportunity to start under Karanka against Bolton Wanderers at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
A crowd of more than 22,000 is expected for Karanka's first home game in charge and Jutkiewicz has been impressed by the new boss' input since taking over on November 13.
“He is firm but fair from what we have seen so far,” said Jutkiewicz. “He is not afraid to say what he thinks. His English is good enough to get his point across but he doesn't seem a ranter and raver.
“When he feels he needs to make a point then he makes it clear in no uncertain terms that everyone understands the demands.
“He has done a couple of double training sessions. I have been really impressed with the intensity of the training. It's very regimented. You are constantly doing something sharp and intense.
“All the players are enjoying it and there's a lot of ball work as well. Everything is surrounded by tight touches of the ball and that's different to every manager I have worked under before.
“That's massive under him. It's really enjoyable. If you want to come in and work hard then you want to come in and do game related things.”
Middlesbrough could do with building on the feel-good factor among the supporters following the appointment of Karanka by returning to winning ways against Bolton.
Jutkiewicz said: “You have to play the game more than the occasion. Maybe for the manager himself it is a little different because it is his first game, but for the players you are desperate to win and that doesn't change.”
Karanka has not ruled out a push towards the play-off places, so defeating Bolton could be important with a ten-point gap between the Teessiders and the top six.
And Jutkiewicz said: “If you look at the first half of last season for us when we were flying, it doesn't take long to slip down the table.
“The same can be said in the other direction. It doesn't take much to close the gap on the teams ahead of you. It's not an impossibility to close the gap on the teams above you.
“Bolton came from a relegation scrap last season to be within touch of the play-offs by the end. They also started poorly this season, but they have gone on a great run and have shown they are a strong team. That's the Championship. It will be a big challenge for us on Saturday.”
Talks were ongoing yesterday aimed at bringing in a new face for Karanka to include in his squad for the visit of the Trotters.
And work will continue over the course of the day in the hope of doing just that, with a goalkeeper high under consideration because of the three-match suspension facing Jason Steele.
* Lukas Jutkiewicz was joined by team-mates Mustapha Carayol and Ben Gibson at Middlesbrough's official club store in the town's Captain Cook Square yesterday for a signing session.
The trio put their autographs on popular gift ideas including the new Boro annual and calendar, which are £7 each, and kits.