AITOR KARANKA thinks Middlesbrough have shown enough in recent defeats to Everton and Tottenham to suggest they can get things right in the Premier League – even if it means delivering for 90 minutes.
Karanka has revealed both Fabio da Silva and James Husband will return to action after injuries in Friday’s Under-23s Premier League Cup tie at Fulham, so will not be involved across the capital against West Ham on Saturday afternoon.
It means only Grant Leadbitter out of the senior squad remains sidelined through injury and the head coach hopes the situation bodes well as he looks to address a three-match losing slump.
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Middlesbrough played well in spells against Crystal Palace, Everton and Tottenham and Karanka does not think they can afford to play half-hearted for any period of time in the top-flight.
He said: “The starting point has to be second half against Tottenham. We showed everybody we can compete against a team playing in the Champions League, unbeaten in Premier League and fighting for title last year.
“The second 45 minutes we scored once and could have scored another. The image of the team was completely different.
“It's always important. I lived as a player, when you don't start well it's difficult to change your mindset and spirit. I try to transmit to them every day to start the games well. We did against Everton.”
Karanka is looking forward to being able to turn to Fabio, a £5m signing from Cardiff, and left-back Husband after respective knee and shoulder problems.
He said: “Fabio has been training with us this week and Hubby is going to play on Friday with the Under-23s, so both of them are nearly 100 per cent. Fabio is training with the team he's leaving a few exercises but from next week he will be fully with the team.”
Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter has not figured this season because of surgery on his hernia and he was not expected back until Christmas.
Karanka said: “Grant is improving a lot, which is good news. It’s all very positive and he could be back sooner than we thought.”