MICHAEL Carrick takes great joy from Chuba Akpom's record-breaking Middlesbrough form, after the Championship's top scorer described his head coach as the "manager he's been dreaming of his whole career".

Akpom broke a Championship record in the victory over Hull City this week when he scored for the ninth consecutive home game as Boro secured a place in the play-offs with three games to spare.

The former Arsenal striker now has 28 league goals to his name and has hit the net 12 times in his last 12 appearances as his incredible season on Teesside goes from strength to strength.

Carrick says Akpom has developed a killer instinct in front of goal and now goes on the pitch expecting to score - which will terrify Boro's play-off rivals.

Akpom dedicated his Hull City strike to his manager and celebrated by lifting the head coach off his feet in the technical area.

"He's a strong boy Chubs, when he squeezed me it caught me off guard," laughed Carrick.

"I just love to see the lads fulfilling what they're capable of and their potential.

"Winning football matches is fantastic and seeing goals go in is brilliant but seeing them play with a smile and enjoying themselves and actually understanding how good they can be gives me great satisfaction.

"I'm delighted for him. He's going through that patch where he believes he will score and he could have scored more so he's probably a bit disappointed.

"We're here to help him. We have a job to do with results, we want to get into a different league, but it's about people and the players and getting the best out of them."

Only three strikers - Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ivan Toney and Glenn Murray - have scored 30 goals in a season in the history of the Championship, with Akpom two short of joining that list with three games to play in the regular season.


Carrick says the striker's confidence is a powerful weapon.

"Mindset overrides any skill or ability," said Boro's boss.

"It's amazing what you can achieve when you have the right frame of mind, we've all seen it with different players.

"He's in a great place and the best thing for me is over the season he's never been satisfied with what he's achieved.

"He could have got to 10 or 15 and settled but he's never lost that hunger. I've said it before about being greedy in the best possible way, always wanting more. He has to keep that feeling and keep going the way he is."

Boro will now head for Luton on Monday night with both clubs having guaranteed a place in the play-offs.

Only two of Millwall, Blackburn and West Brom - who are in sixth, seventh and eighth - can catch Boro's current points tally of 74, with the Lions facing Rovers on the last day of the season.

Boro are still mathematically in with a shout of catching second-placed Sheffield United but would need to win their last three games and for the Blades to pick up no more than a single point from their last four fixtures.