Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka explains Steele's absence

THIRD CHOICE: Jason Steele

THIRD CHOICE: Jason Steele

First published in Sport
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Aitor Karanka has revealed Jason Steele will start the season as third choice behind Dimi Konstantopoulos and Tomas Mejias, but insists he is happy with the goalkeeper’s attitude.

Steele was Tony Mowbray’s first choice before Karanka took over, but the Newton Aycliffe-born stopper made just two appearances under the Spaniard last season.

The former England Under-21 international was ruled out for large chunks of the campaign through injury, but even when he returned Steele found it hard to break into Karanka’s plans.

The Spaniard brought in Mejias from Real Madrid following the conclusion of Shay Given’s loan spell at the Riverside, but when he got injured in training shortly after his arrival, the Boro boss turned to Konstantopoulos.

Steele has played 120 minutes of the ’ pre-season programme, but Karanka has revealed why the Spanish and Greek keepers are ahead of the 23-year-old in the pecking order.

“At the moment I trust Dimi and Tomas,” Karanka said. “I can’t say anything bad about Jason. He is a very good professional, but it is just my preference and I am the person that has to choose the players.

“I have more confidence in Dimi and Tomas, but I’m happy with Jason’s attitude.”

While uncertainty surrounds Steele’s future at the Riverside, there are also question marks over Kei Kamara.

The 29-year-old has made only one appearance during pre-season, although he was set to play against Hartlepool before being called up for international duty by Sierra Leone.

The striker has fallen down the pecking order at the Riverside despite the departures of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Emnes, but Karanka insists he will be given a chance if he trains well.

He said: “Kei was in the squad to go to Hartlepool, but he had to leave to go to Sierra Leone. If he trains well he can play. He knows he is not one of my first choices, but all the players I have when the transfer window closes will have a chance to play.”

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