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Every player has a chance under me says Boro boss
AITOR KARANKA thinks the last two matches are proof to Middlesbrough's fringe men that every player has a chance to shine under the Spaniard.
Back-to-back wins over Millwall and Burnley for the first time this year have given Boro a real boost after a dreadful 12 months as 2014 approaches.
And two of Middlesbrough's best players during those victories have been Jozsef Varga and Emmanuel Ledesma.
Varga was asked to slot in at right-back at Millwall a week ago and retained his place on Boxing Day, when he looked at home in that position.
Ledesma, who scored as a substitute when he replaced Mustapha Carayol last Saturday, capped an impressive performance on Thursday by scoring the winner against Burnley.
The likes of Richie Smallwood and Curtis Main have also enjoyed prominent roles under Karanka, so the boss believes the impact of such players should fill the whole squad with confidence.
“Emmanuel has had a chance under me and he has taken that chance,” said Karanka. “It's important when you have four or five injuries in your team that you have players like Emmanuel and Jozsef Varga to come in and take their chance.
“It shows that all the players have a chance at any moment under me. They have to be ready if that chance comes.
“Every day players who train very well are going to have a chance and Emmanuel has shown that since I took over. That's why he was hungry and why he played with confidence against Millwall and Burnley. Every player who plays in my team has my confidence.”
Middlesbrough had been showing signs of improvement before the trip to Millwall a week ago and had started to look like a tighter unit defensively.
Becoming more solid at the back has gained its rewards with back-to-back clean sheets, which have laid the foundations for two wins ahead of tomorrow's visit of Reading.
Boxing Day's success over Burnley in particular was achieved with plenty of promise going forward too, with Middlesbrough's players also closing down the opposition throughout.
Karanka said: “It's important for us to keep going. We were playing well in the beginning under me without winning. Beating a team at the top of the table should be very important in showing us we can keep climbing the table.
“The best thing for the crowd, for the team, is to start the game full of intensity and that's what I want from my team. Games in the Championship are already very close, so you have to take control of games from the start.”
This is Karanka's first season in English football so dealing with four matches in ten days over Christmas is something new to him.
But the former Real Madrid man has made a decent start, winning the first two, and he hopes to give Middlesbrough's fans a third straight win to cheer tomorrow before the trip to Bolton on New Year's Day.
Karanka said: “This is different for me, I'm not used to such a programme. But it's an important period in the English football calendar, I know that.
“It was my first Boxing Day, the crowd were amazing and it's important the fans feel close to the club. We have to help them turn up and enjoy the occasion and wining over this period also helps them enjoy Christmas!”
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