AITOR KARANKA has vowed that Middlesbrough will be working up to ‘the last second’ of the transfer window to strengthen their squad.
Karanka signed one player yesterday and is hopeful of another - Patrick Bamford - making his long-awaited move before tomorrow’s home match against Reading.
And the Spaniard has admitted it will be a late night at the club’s base at Rockliffe Park on Monday.
“I’m expecting to improve the squad until the last second,” said Karanka, who yesterday brought in Tottenham youngster Ryan Fredericks on a season-long loan. “The last moment. After that moment, we will have the best squad possible, and after that the players who will be with me will be there for the rest of the season.
“I am expecting to be waiting until the last second. When it is finished we will say this is our squad and we will fight for the rest of the season with that. It will be a late night. Just like January, in Doncaster, it will be the same.”
The club have had a deal in place for Bamford for the last fortnight, but the finer details have dragged on longer than expected. But, with the player seemingly keen to join Boro, Karanka is not worried about the delay - although he is not certain whether the Chelsea striker will sign in time to face the Royals tomorrow.
“We’re at the same point as we were on Tuesday with Patrick,” said Karanka. “We’d like it fixed up as soon as possible and he can be here as soon as possible also.
“This is the only concern. Patrick wants to come here - he wanted to come here one or two weeks ago - I wanted him here four or six months ago. He’s not here and that’s the only concern. “We are working very well and we expect him to be here as soon as possible.
“I hope he will be here for Saturday but I can’t say for certain at the moment.”
Fredericks, a 21-year-old right-back, has signed in time to play tomorrow, and Karanka is pleased to have secured the services of a player he knows much about.
“He’s a young lad, a good lad,” said Karanka. “For me the most important thing is to bring in players who are good people, there are going to be players who do not play every game and they need to support the team when they are not playing.
“I have asked Mauricio [Pochettino] how he is as a kid and he said he is very good. As a player I know him, he’s an offensive player who likes to go forward and he’s a type of defender I like.
“We were six or seven months without a right-back, and now we have two. This is the best thing for me, Damia [Abella] has another player to fight for his position, but he also has a player to give him rest. He is playing a lot of games and we need to be careful with him.
“He can be in the squad for Saturday, but we need to know if he is 100%, how well he has been training. It’s an important game for us because it is the last one before the international break and I need to be very sure of who to have in the squad.”
Fredericks’ signing means that Boro now have at least two players for every position, something which is of great importance to Karanka who has extolled the virtues of a competitive squad since taking over from Tony Mowbray last November.
Karanka added: “It’s the best thing for me, to come to my desk and have 22 players to choose from, two of each position, and I try to choose the best for the game. I prefer to have 22 choices.”
Middlesbrough spent £635,662 on agents' fees last season, in figures released yesterday.
The Championship's clubs spent a total of £14.7m on agents in 2013-14 with QPR topping the charts with just over £1.8m spent on 58 transactions which include contract extensions, loans and new players. Middlesbrough made 45 transactions over the season.