Karanka to press ahead with transfer plans upon return from Spain

IN THE MARKET: Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka

IN THE MARKET: Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka

First published in Sport

MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Aitor Karanka will step up attempts to strengthen his squad upon returning from the club’s pre-season tour in Spain this week.

Boro rounded off their training camp in Marbella with a 5-0 win over Atletico Clube de Portugal yesterday morning thanks to goals from new striker Kike (2), Bradley Fewster (2) and George Friend.

Kike – along with goalkeeper Tomas Mejias – represent Karanka’s only summer signings so far and the Boro boss is still in the market for a number of players.

Despite securing the services of Kike, the Spaniard is still in the market for a striker, as well as a central midfielder and a right-back.

The likes of Danny Graham, Jelle Vossen, Patrick Bamford and Adam Clayton have all been linked with moves to the Riverside, but Middlesbrough are finding deals difficult to complete.

Work has continued behind the scenes during the squad’s week-long stay in Spain, but Karanka is keen to make another breakthrough soon.

Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo revealed on Sunday he will join Boro on another loan deal after he returns from holiday, but The Northern Echo understands a deal has not yet been completed.

It remains to be seen whether there will be any more new faces in before Saturday’s trip to face Rochdale, but Karanka admitted he was pleased with his players’ performance in Marbella.

“It’s another game where we have worked really well,” the Boro boss said. “Obviously the score is important, but this was our last game here.

“The week has been a good balance and it’s been very good for me. We had one bad game, but after that we have had a very good reaction and I’m very happy.”

Kike opened the scoring in the eighth minute after good work by Luke Williams set the Spanish striker up to curl home.

George Friend doubled the scoring six minutes later after the ball fell to him before Kike grabbed his second and Boro’s third 60 seconds later.

Karanka made three changes at the break with Jason Steele, Daniel Ayala and Bradley Fewster coming on, and the youngster made it 4-0 from the spot after Boro were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute.

The forward struck again with six minutes remaining after good work by Dean Whitehead and Lee Tomlin.

Boro (4-2-3-1): Mejias (Steele 46); Atkinson, Burgess (Woodgate 78), Gibson, Friend (Ayala 46); Smallwood (Butterfield 64), Leadbitter (Whitehead 64); Main (Morris 64), L Williams (Tomlin 64), Brobbel (Reach 64); Kike (Fewster 46).

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