Middlesbrough must end January with a stronger squad, says Karanka

Boro boss Aitor Karanka remains determined to add another striker before the transfer window closes on Friday night

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka insists Middlesbrough must end January with a stronger squad than they had at the turn of the year.

Karanka remains determined to add to his attacking options before the transfer window closes on Friday night, as Boro look to underline their play-off credentials.

Only league leaders Leicester City and promotion hopefuls Derby County have scored more goals than the 41 the Teessiders have notched this season, but no Boro player has yet reached double figures in the league.

Several names have been linked with a move to the Riverside, including Wolverhampton Wanderers frontman Kevin Doyle, Norwich City’s Luciano Becchio and Belgium international Jelle Vossen, who plays for Genk.

Karanka refused to comment on individual targets, saying: “I can’t say yes to this one or that one – there are always rumours.”

But he added: “We are working on several names for several positions.

“It is essential that I finish the January window with a better squad than the one I had at the beginning. It’s good to find in the market one player who will get you five or 10 or 15 goals.

“We are working on some names.

“We need to get players quickly, and I don’t know the market 100% yet so it is difficult, but the club is working very hard.

“We have good people here supporting me and that is a big help.”

Meanwhile Bolton Wanderers were hoping to complete a loan deal for Boro’s Lukas Jutkiewicz in time for him to play in their game at QPR tonight, with Trotters manager Dougie Freedman claiming the move is 95% done.

Freedman said: “It is 95% along the way for Jutkiewicz.

“He is someone I have admired since his Everton days.

“He can be one of the top strikers in this division.

“We are nearly there and because of his pedigree and experience I think I would involve him tonight if we get it done.”

In contrast, Karanka says he would not involve any new arrival in Boro’s game against Wigan at the Riverside tonight, even if they signed in time.

He said: “I don’t wait on anyone for Tuesday, because I already have the team in my head. If anyone does arrive, he will not be in the squad against Wigan.”

Boro’s six-game unbeaten run in the league came to an end at the weekend as they lost 2-0 at Leicester in dreadful weather conditions.

But Karanka does not believe that defeat – in which referee Steve Martin failed to spot that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the Foxes’ opening goal – will have knocked Boro’s confidence.

He said: “I don’t think so. We lost because of our mistakes, and I don’t want to use the referee as an excuse because sometimes they make mistakes just as players do.”

Wigan endured a disappointing start to the season as they struggled to cope with the demands of a Championship campaign and their involvement in the Europa League.

But they have now exited European competition and their league form has improved with just one defeat in their last seven Championship games.

That defeat came in their last outing against lowly Doncaster, but they responded by knocking Premier League Crystal Palace out of the FA Cup at the weekend as they continued their defence of the trophy.

Karanka said: “It’s a difficult game. Wigan are a good team, and they have the same points as us despite having played two games less.

“They are a difficult team to analyse, because they lost their last league game at Doncaster and yet a few weeks before they beat Derby.”

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