WITH only five days left in the transfer window, Aitor Karanka insists Middlesbrough will work until the ‘last seconds’ as his attempts to strengthen his squad continue.
Karanka has already brought in Chelsea duo Kenneth Omeruo and Nathanial Chalobah on loan, but the Boro boss is still trying to bolster his options for the final few months of the season with a striker top of his list of priorities.
The likes of Jelle Vossen, Luciano Becchio and Danny Graham are all being considered, but it is understood Boro may have to sell before going in for their top targets.
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Genk aren’t willing to sell Vossen for less than £4m, while Graham and Becchio’s wages could be a problem with both Norwich and Sunderland keen to get the majority of their salaries off their respective wage bills.
Boro made an audacious attempt to sign Graham twelve months ago before he moved to North-East rivals Sunderland, but they have since sent him out on loan to Hull City, where the striker has also failed to make an impact.
With time ticking before the transfer window closes, Karanka insists the club will work until the very last moment as they try to secure some reinforcements before Friday’s deadline.
“We will work until the last seconds of the window to have a squad much better than we started with at the beginning of the month,” said Karanka, who watched his side lose at Championship leaders Leicester City on Saturday.
“The best thing is for everyone to work together and me and the club are working in the same way to bring in players that will improve us. It is important to be patient and to been clear in our ideas.
“We are looking for the right positions to make us stronger and we have until January 31 to get players in. I want to finish this window with a stronger squad than I had at the beginning of it.”
After Frazer Richardson and Andy Halliday joined Ipswich and Blackpool respectively, Boro now have eight players out on loan at various clubs.
Karanka was keen to reduce the size of his squad while also trying to improve it and the Boro boss admits there could be more players leaving the Riverside in the coming weeks.
He said: “I don’t know at this moment whether any more will leave. I have just been thinking about the game and now I am thinking about Wigan.
“The club knows my feelings and for this they are working very hard to help us improve.”
Boro’s six-game unbeaten run came to an end at the King Power Stadium after second half goals from Jamie Vardy and Ritchie De Laet sent Nigel Pearson’s side eight points clear at the top of the table.
Frustratingly, Boro matched their high-flying opponents for 55 minutes, but a dubious goal led to Karanka’s men losing their focus and even Shay Given’s penalty save to deny David Nugent when the score was 1-0 couldn’t lift the Teessiders to get back into the game.
Vardy’s opener came eight minutes after the restart came when Nugent robbed Daniel Ayala at the byline, but Boro were infuriated when the referee and his assistants failed to see the ball had gone out of play before Nugent had played the ball into the box.
Karanka’s men never fully recovered after the incident, but the Boro boss admits their unbeaten run was always going to come to an end at some point.
“We were always going to lose a game and it came on this day against Leicester, but we can’t let that affect what we have done recently,” Karanka said. “This day would always come against the top of the table team, but we need to move on and think about the Wigan game. They are another team that is fighting for the top positions.
“We played against a very good team that is 24 points ahead of us. For 55 minutes we were the better team. We have already beaten Burnley and we went face to face with Derby and Brighton. We need to work the way we did in those games and if we do we will win more games.
“They are a strong group that is training and playing very well. We still need to improve on certain things but we need to believe we can beat Wigan and we are good enough to do that.”
After a storm hit Leicester moments before kick-off, Boro adjusted to the slippery conditions better than their hosts, but Lukas Jutkiewicz was guilty of missing two vital chances at the start of either half with the score still goalless.
After Vardy put the Foxes ahead, Boro never really looked like clawing their way back into the game before Ayala fouled out wide with De Laet heading in Matty James’ free-kick unmarked.
Karanka admits his side lost focus after going a goal behind, and although his players can cause to feel hard done by, the Boro boss insisted his players should have moved on straight away.
He said: “I thought the ball was out. I couldn’t see from the bench but everybody inside told me the ball was out and from the replays it was. Against Leicester, this doesn’t help because they are a good team and you need everything to go your way. “I’m not happy because we lost the game, but we were fighting with a team that is 24 points ahead of us.
“I think the players lost their concentration after the first goal. They were angry, but that is our fault. We have to improve this because sometimes the referee is wrong but we can’t finish a game after they have made one bad decision. We must carry on and fight until the end, but we didn’t do that. We lost our focus a bit.”