AITOR KARANKA is searching for some extra firepower on the goalscoring front and he believes Patrick Bamford could be the man to deliver a different kind of threat in the penalty area for Middlesbrough.
Bamford was at the club’s Rockliffe Park training HQ yesterday to put the finishing touches to a season-long loan move from Chelsea, although he will not start at Bolton tonight even if the deal is confirmed in time.
The 20-year-old has been on Karanka’s wish-list since taking over from Tony Mowbray ten months ago and could well bring to an end Middlesbrough’s search for an alternative option to Kike in the final third.
Despite the emergence of young striker Bradley Fewster and the availability of Kei Kamara, who is not believed to be part of the manager’s plans, Karanka has waited for Chelsea to give the go-ahead for the Bamford loan to take place.
After receiving word from Jose Mourinho to discuss the situation with the youngster, Karanka hopes for some further progress and he thinks Bamford could well be the missing ingredient required to enhance Middlesbrough’s promotion chances.
“At the moment I want Patrick and his best position is a striker,” said Karanka. “He can score a lot of goals. Last season he scored 26 goals; 18 for MK Dons and eight for Derby County. We need to have players who score goals and he can do that.
“Last season we had Albert Adomah as our top scorer. I would like to have Adomah with ten or 12 goals this season, Kike with 20 and Patrick with 20 ... but at the moment he is not my player, so we will see.
“We are working on other ways of adding because we do not know what is happening with Patrick for certain. I would like to take him as soon as possible with me. He knows that.”
Bamford joined Chelsea from Nottingham Forest for £1.5m in January 2012 and has been a threat to lower league defences ever since he was allowed to move on loan to MK Dons temporarily in November 2012. Still only 20, Karanka knows he is capable of playing behind the lone striker or as a direct alternative for Kike.
“I hope it is close,” said the Middlesbrough boss. “I love Patrick Bamford. I knew about him in my first month here but everything was done with Derby so he went there. I wanted to get him this time and I will try to convince him. I have told him how important he will be for us.”
With Bamford mulling over whether he wants to move to Teesside, he was never in a position where he was going to be considered for tonight’s trip to Bolton.
Middlesbrough head to the Reebok Stadium still smarting from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leeds United; Adomah’s overhead kick should have stood in the first half but was ruled out for dangerous play.
In the end Billy Sharp capitalised on Tomas Mejias’ failure to hold a routine shot towards his goal to hit a late winner, which has led, perhaps harshly after one error, many fans to call for Dimi Konstantopoulos’ return to the side.
But Karanka is standing by his summer signing from Real Madrid. He said: “I understand the goalkeeper situation and how fans feel about certain things but it is my decision.
“I can mistakes myself, but when I go to my office I will always pick the best eleven which I think is suited for the games. I gave Tomas and Dimi all of my confidence and this is still the same now. In the future, with me, you never know. Every player has their own position in their own hands.”
Karanka, who has no fresh injury problems but will not consider Jonathan Woodgate tonight as he continues with hamstring trouble, was still angry at referee Stuart Attwell’s decision to ruled out Adomah’s volley at Elland Road. Overall, though, he was also left frustrated by aspects of his own team’s display.
“We can take the defeat as a wake-up call,” said the Spaniard, who is set to make a couple of changes because of a run of seven games in 22 days. “We are very good when we play in our way, we are strong and with our intensity. When we don’t play with our intensity, everything can fall apart. I try to ensure we have intensity in every single game.
“I know we don’t have the same players that are in the Premier League, but if you can have the intensity all of the time and bring greater quality as you go then we will have better chances of winning games.
“We are better than most teams, we can beat them all, but if we don’t play with intensity then we will have problems. I didn’t like the second half at Leeds. We lacked the intensity I have been asking for. We did not win the 50/50 balls. If you don’t win those tackles then you lose.”
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Mejias; Hines, Ayala, Omeruo, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter; Reach, Tomlin, Adomah; Kike.
Bolton (4-4-2): Bogdan; McNaughton, Ream, Wheater, Mills; Lee, Spearing, Danns, Pratley; Kamara, Mason.