Aitor Karanka has revealed that he is yet to make a final decision on whether to risk Alvaro Negredo for the visit of Liverpool on Wednesday night (14 December) as Middlesbrough have another crucial game to play against Swansea at the weekend. Meanwhile, the Spanish boss confirmed that the game with Jurgen Klopp's side will definitely come too early for Gaston Ramirez and George Friend.
Negredo has started 13 Premier League games since joining the club from Valencia during the summer transfer window. However, the former Manchester City number nine missed the weekend defeat to Southampton due to a hamstring injury.
Karanka has suggested that the Spaniard has shaken off those problems but he is not 100% sure if the Spaniard will be fully fit to lead the Middlesbrough attack against Liverpool.
"Alvaro may be ready, but I don't want to take risks. We have another big game on Saturday [against Swansea City], and the Christmas period in this league coming up is very important, Karanka said in the press conference ahead of the visit of the Merseysiders. "But once again I will put the best team out to beat Liverpool."
Meanwhile, Gaston Ramirez will surely miss the clash with Liverpool as the Uruguayan is yet to recover from the foot injury he sustained after scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory over Hull City.
"Gaston is not available because he has not trained," Karanka confirmed.
Karanka, meanwhile, provided some positive news over George Friend. The defender is yet to play a game since the draw with Manchester City on 5 November but is back in training and should be ready to help his side over the busy festive period.
"He's close, he's been training with the team the last few days," Karanka confirmed ahead of the visit of Liverpool. "Now it is about getting his confidence again because he is the kind of player who gives 150% every game."