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Carayol wants to make up for lost time at Boro
HAVING endured an injury-hit first season on Teesside, Mustapha Carayol is ready to make up for lost time and prove why Tony Mowbray plucked him from League Two to help Middlesbrough in their quest to return to the Premier League.
Carayol arrived at the Riverside from Bristol Rovers last summer, but after making a bright start to life on Teesside, the 23-year-old suffered a serious knee injury during Boro's Capital One Cup tie against Gillingham that would eventually keep him out for five months.
When he returned in the last few months of the campaign, Carayol produced more moments of brilliance to suggest he had more than comfortably made the step up the football ladder.
Now, with the slate wiped clean Carayol is determined to prove Mowbray's gamble to sign him from the lower leagues was right.
"It was really bad timing considering I had just moved up here and was new to the club," said Carayol, who should be okay to play this afternoon despite suffering a tight groin.
"It was a bit depressing but my family came up here and kept me company as much as they could. The boys and the medical staff were excellent with me and now I'm just happy to be back fit.
"I'm feeling much fitter than what I did last season. I felt like I was always playing catch-up. Hopefully I can stay fit and kick on for the team this season.
"It is about making up for lost time. The gaffer has spoken to me and there's a thin line between putting too much on my shoulders and he's just told me to relax and play my game.
"I feel like I perform better when I'm relaxed. I guess the whole team do. Obviously I realise as a footballer you've got to prove to everyone that every time we go on the pitch we're good enough to play and I will be trying to impress every time I'm given the chance."
Despite his lack of game time last season, Carayol did enough to attract interest from elsewhere over the summer with Nottingham Forest having a bid rejected for the winger.
He said: "A lot of the interest came as a surprise because I didn't really play much. It's always nice to be acknowledged for what you do, but at the moment I'm happy here and I'm enjoying my football so I hope I can stay here for many years to come.
"I felt when I was coming to the club, I knew the style of football here would suit me and that was a big part of my decision.
"I just always want to be on the ball and sometimes the gaffer even has to tell me to go away, but I do enjoy playing this style of football. It suits a lot of the players we've got here."
Middlesbrough will look to record their first home win of the campaign against Blackpool today after back-to-back defeats to Leicester City and Accrington Stanley.
Carayol understands there is huge pressure on the players to deliver after two disappointing seasons, but urges supporters to remain patient as Mowbray puts the finishing touches to his squad.
"I think it's much too early to start panicking or writing us off," the winger said. "If you look in the past all the teams that have gone up have started badly so hopefully in the first two games we've had our little rot and now we can kick on and the gaffer will bring in a few decent players that will help us along.
"There's a lot of pressure on us to win and I think with the style of football that we play we need people to be patient. We've got the attacking players to win games.
"We've got to give the fans the chance by getting results on the pitch. Hopefully we can get our first win at home against Blackpool and make it a really hard place to come again."