aitor karanka
Aitor Karanka. Getty


  • Boro host Spurs following two consecutive defeats to Everton and Crystal Palace.
  • Jordan Rhodes, Cristhian Stuani and Adam Clayton are available.
  • Leadbitter and Fabio are out but summer signing Espinosa could make his debut.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka believes that he would lament more a hypothetical absence of Alvaro Negredo in his attack than Mauricio Pochettino will miss Harry Kane when his side face Tottenham on Saturday (24 September).

Meanwhile, the Spaniard has suggested that he may make changes in his line-up following two successive defeats to Everton and Crystal Palace after providing a positive injury update. Jordan Rhodes, Cristhian Stuani and Adam Clayton are available to face Spurs while only long-term absentee Grant Leadbitter and Fabio remain on the sidelines.

Boro started the campaign with two draws and one victory following their last season promotion to the Premier League. However, they have failed to continue that form in the following games after having suffered two back-to-back defeat at home with Palace and at Goodison Park. Karanka believes that his players need to raise their level to adapt to the higher quality of their rivals.

"Teams are taking advantage of our mistakes so now we need to work on that at the training ground," the boss said in the press conference as was quoted by Gazettelive. "I've always been fighting to win something. This season it's the first time I'm losing games and are fighting for another aim. Now we need to keep going and be confident. I said two weeks ago I was really pleased with the club's work in the summer. We know that in the Championship you could be lost for 15 mins and nothing would happen but in the Premier League if you do that you'll concede goals, so we need to be concentrating for 90 minutes."

The absence of Kane in the Tottenham attacking line after he picked up a ligament damage during Spurs' 1-0 victory over Sunderland looks a boost for Middlesbrough.


But Karanka said: "I think we would miss Alvaro more than they will miss Kane. They have other players to play, an amazing squad. Mauricio will play someone who is really motivated."

"They have top players and we have to know one mistake in the premier league we will be punished. In the Championship you can be lost for 10 minutes and nothing happens, but now 10 minutes lost on the pitch is three goals."

The Spaniard did confirm good news on the injury front at Middlesbrough as Jordan Rhodes and Cristhian Stuani are ready to return to action after they missed the game against Everton. Furthermore, Clayton is also available despite the midfielder picking up a knock at Goodison Park.

"Clayton is ok. He trained the following day so is fine to play," Karanka said during the press conference when asked about the midfielder. "All of them are ready except Fabio and Grant Leadbitter. Thankfully the rest of the team are good and looking forward to the game. We've had one week to prepare."

The Captain is yet to play a game this season following an hernia operation while the Brazilian full-back is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered during his debut against Fulham the EFL Cup second round defeat on 24 August.

Meanwhile, summer signing Bernardo Espinosa has already recovered from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered at Sporting Gijon last season. The Colombian centre-back already made the bench against Everton and may be ready to make his debut for Middlesbrough to help Karanka to address the problems in his back-line.

But questioned whether Espinosa or Calum Chambers could start against Tottenham, he said: "Always I have 22 players ready to play and all of them have the chance to play. Last season I had a lot of games and did changes as people needed to rest but now it's not a fitness point of view, its finding the best 11."

"I have to find the best 11 to beat Tottenham. It'll be a tough game against an unbeaten team, we have to learn from mistakes made in the past and try to win at home."