JASON Steele insists he did not fall out with head coach Aitor Karanka, but the Middlesbrough goalkeeper revealed he feels “raw” after leaving to join Blackburn on loan.
Steele completed a late switch to Ewood Park before Monday’s transfer deadline and will spend the rest of the season with the Lancashire club.
The former England Under-21 international has endured a difficult few months on Teesside having fallen down the pecking order under Karanka.
The Newton Aycliffe-born stopped was sent off in the Spaniard’s first game in charge at Leeds last November, and featured only once more in Boro’s final day win at Yeovil in May.
He started the new campaign as third choice behind Tomas Mejias and Dimi Konstantopoulos, despite being the club’s number one for three-and-a-half seasons.
Karanka told the 24-year-old he was free to leave during the transfer window and it remains to be seen whether he will return to the Riverside Stadium with his current deal due to expire next summer.
“We never argued,” Steele said. “In football sometimes people come in and have opinions. I'd never hold bad feeling or grudges over it.
“Last week the manager said I was free to go. I played in the first-team from being 19, and was with the club from being 12 so it's still a bit raw to me and probably not right time to talk about it yet.”
Steele will have to compete with Paul Robinson and Jake Kean for a place in Gary Bowyer’s side, but the keeper revealed he is looking forward to a new start.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to join such a massive club. It’s something that I’m very proud of.
“It was a great opportunity for me. Things haven’t really worked out at Middlesbrough over the last few months for whatever reason.
“The chance arose to come here and I couldn’t think of a better place to kick-start my career again.
“First and foremost I want to do my best in training, catch the manager’s eye and hopefully get into the team.
“Obviously I’m fully aware that it’s going to be difficult, but my ambition is get in the team and help achieve all of our goals for the season.
“Paul (Robinson) was one of my idols when I was growing up and he’s had a fantastic career,” added the new Rovers recruit.
“It will be brilliant to work with him day-in day-out and that can only benefit me.
“The facilities here are second to none. I hear people say every day that this is a Premier League club in the Championship and I believe that’s 100 per cent true and we need to get back there.”
MIDDLESBROUGH have announced they will hold an open training session at the Riverside Stadium this Friday.
Aitor Karanka’s squad, minus the players on international duty, will be put through their paces and fans are welcome to come along and watch action.
Doors will open around 10.30am for fans wanting to watch the session.
It represents a rare opportunity to see the Boro stars close-up at the Riverside on a non-matchday, and fans could see some of the 12 new signings to arrive on Teesside this summer, including Jelle Vossen and Yanic Wildschut.
The West Stand Lower, entrances 6 and 7, will be open and food and drink will be available to purchase on the concourse.