MUSTAPHA CARAYOL feels Middlesbrough have nothing to fear as they continue their climb up the Championship table.
Victory against Blackpool, in which Carayol scored twice after coming on as a substitute, saw Boro move above the Seasiders into 13th, with the play-off places in sight.
And Carayol has paid tribute to Aitor Karanka who has effected Boro’s change in fortunes.
“We’re not scared of any team in this league,” said Carayol. “I don’t think we should be. We’ve got to go into every game and keep our performance levels up and we’ll get our rewards in the end.
“There’s a lot of confidence through the squad. I hope it carries on and we can make the play-offs, if not better.
“Since day one, training has changed, the competitiveness has been raised tenfold, everyone is buzzing in training. Everybody knows that when you’re given the shirt you have to go and do the business on the pitch because you won’t play the next one if you don’t.”
Boro have cut out the errors that undermined some otherwise encouraging performances this season, and have shipped just two goals - both coming in a 2-2 draw at Bolton - in the last five league games, where they remain unbeaten. Carayol feels that a strong base can relieve the pressure on attackers.
“As a team we’ve looked strong apart from the Bolton game,” said Carayol. “Our defence has looked strong and hopefully that can continue. As attackers that helps us because we don’t have to chase the game.
“You can just take your time and you don’t need to rush decisions.”
Karanka has spoken of trimming the squad down to 23 or 24, ideally during the window, and Carayol believes that kind of pressure will bring the best out of Boro’s players.
“It’s a squad game. Whenever we’re called upon we’ve got to do the business. We all want to play every week but as we all know only 11 players can have the shirt. I’ll keep working hard, hopefully I’ll get a start.
“Everybody knows that when you’re given the shirt you have to go and do the business on the pitch because you won’t play the next one if you don’t.
“Some of the boys will be let go and you’ve just got to get on with it. I do like the bunch of boys we have here as we all get along.
“Hopefully we can all stay and finish on a successful note come the end of the season.”