AITOR KARANKA hopes Gaston Ramirez and Viktor Fischer can shake off problems in time to figure over the Christmas period after Saturday’s much-needed victory over Swansea City arrived at a cost.

The attacking pair had to be withdrawn against the Swans after picking up injuries, but with eight days until they travel to Burnley it is hoped they will be fit.

Ramirez had to be taken off with Middlesbrough sitting comfortably on a three-goal lead, with Karanka keen to give him a break after his recent foot injury. His lack of training recently, having missed the previous two games, took its toll after an impressive hour which included an assist for Marten de Roon’s volleyed third.

Fischer’s injury was more concerning because he had to hobble off after just 11 minutes when he seemed to twist as he looked to turn away from a challenge from Alfie Mawson.

The Danish forward didn’t require crutches to walk away from the Riverside on Saturday, which is a positive sign, although the fact he had to go off so early suggested an appearance at Burnley is already in doubt.

Karanka said: “With Viktor, it’s his ankle, but we need to check. With Gaston, when I put a player out on the pitch he’s 100 per cent – unless it’s a final and I have to take a risk. Otherwise I won’t take a risk. At the end of the game he had problems in his knee because he couldn’t train as he wanted before the game.”

Even though Ramirez only trained tentatively on Friday, he was impressive. He has played better in a Middlesbrough shirt, but his presence in the final third caused problems for Swansea.

Karanka said: “We have 26 top-class players in the squad. Gaston is making the difference and when he’s not on the pitch he’s a miss. We win as a team and we lose as a team but you’d miss a player like that.

Middlesbrough have climbed four points clear of the bottom three courtesy of the 3-0 win over Swansea and moved up four places. After back-to-back defeats it was important for the mood in the dressing room – and stands – that they recorded a home win over the relegation contenders.

Karanka said: “Until we scored I was really upset but sometimes you have to understand the players, and for them it was a game with a lot of pressure. I was trying to keep that pressure off in the pre-match press conference by saying it was not a massive game. But it was against a direct opponent and once again we showed we can win, and that we can score goals.

“Sometimes we will win not playing as good as we would like, and sometimes we will lose playing our best because we are in the Premier League and every single point is difficult. We’ve won our game with our worst performance of the season.

“Most of the time I’m pleased with the performances and not the result but this time it’s the other way round it’s fair to say.

“We know how important it was against a direct opponent and we’ve shown we can win games and score goals.

“We created chances against Southampton and didn’t score and here we only created three or four chances and took most of them. The main thing is to get those points on the board. It’s important to be as high up the table as possible.”

Middlesbrough overcame a shaky start by taking the lead when Alvaro Negredo netted a lovely half volley in the 18th minute.

Eleven minutes later he added his second – and fifth of the season – from the penalty spot.

Karanka said: “Alvaro needs to have those chances to score. He scored against Leicester when he got them, he couldn’t in others when he had them, but he knows how important he is for us and scoring goals is really important for his confidence and the confidence of the team.

“But the players know that when he is not scoring he works a lot for the team. It’s the third game in a week after losing two games so it’s a massive win.

“I’d like to dedicate this to my goalkeeper coach Leo Percovich. He got injured on Friday, he injured his Achilles and is going to be out for a long time.

“He fell down on the training ground. You’ve seen him on the bench, his character and his mood on the training ground, and we know he’s been at home cheering us on. They know how important Leo is for us. He has to have surgery next week and I will go and visit him in hospital.”