AITOR KARANKA remains confident Patrick Bamford will be confirmed as a Middlesbrough player in time to play against Reading at the weekend.
Karanka watched his Boro side reach the third round of the Capital One Cup this evening, with two goals from Lee Tomlin and an own goal from Tom Clarke securing a 3-1 win over Preston.
The victory, which saw all of the goals come after the interval, helped draw a line under last weekend’s bitterly disappointing home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, but will not have tempered Karanka’s desire to see another two or three signings arrive before the transfer window closes next Monday.
George Saville will not be moving to Teesside after signing a three-year deal with Wolves yesterday, but his former Chelsea team-mate Bamford should finally complete a season-long loan from Stamford Bridge within the next 24 hours.
The 21-year-old has already been to Rockliffe Park to iron out the details of his loan switch, and Karanka is confident his move will be completed in time for him to be eligible for the weekend.
“I hope it will be done as soon as possible,” said the Boro head coach. “Everything is done, I think there is just one little detail that is still to finish.
“As soon as possible, Patrick will be with us and we have four or five days to sign other players. I still think we need to make another couple of signings, and I think he (Bamford) will be here in time for Saturday to play.”
Bamford will be joining a side in the third round of the League Cup, and Karanka cited Manchester United’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons as proof that you can never take anything for granted against lower-league opposition.
Boro struggled to create anything during a featureless first half, but Tomlin broke the deadlock with a sublime free-kick, and while Preston quickly levelled through boyhood Middlesbrough fan James Hugill, Clarke’s own goal and a virtuoso solo strike from Tomlin settled things.
“I didn’t feel happy at half-time because I didn’t like the game, but when you finish these kinds of games and are through to the next round, that is the important thing,” said Karanka.
“You only have to look at Man United losing 4-0 to see that it is a very difficult competition. We all know how important this competition is and we want to do well in it. Hopefully, we can get a Premier League team, that would be good for us.”
Given the paucity of Boro’s weekend display against Sheffield Wednesday, Karanka was not about to get too carried away by a second successive cup win against League One opposition.
However, the Spaniard was satisfied to see his team get back to winning ways and is hoping to carry some momentum into Saturday’s game with Reading, which leads into a two-week international break.
“I told the players the best way to forget the horrible game on Saturday was to win today,” He said. “We have done that, and hopefully that will give us more energy to take into the game at the weekend.
“It is very important that we beat Reading because then we can go into the break with nine points, and also be in the third round of the Capital One Cup. We should also have the squad full then, and that will give us two weeks to work with the new players and build a team for the rest of the season.”
While the vast majority of Middlesbrough supporters will have left the Riverside happy, one self-confessed Boro fan was nursing mixed feelings.
Hugill was a season-ticket holder at the Riverside when he embarked on a Northern League career that took him to Seaham Red Star, Consett, Whitby Town and Marske United, so while he took great pleasure from the header that briefly drew Preston level, he was disappointed to finish on the losing team.
“All my family and friends were here tonight and I still can’t believe it, I’m speechless,” said Hugill. “This is something I’ve dreamed about, but obviously I wanted to come away with the win.”