THE pain of the Coventry play-off defeat is still raw but Michael Carrick says his side will learn from the experience - even though his admits it feels "horrible" now.

Carrick was desperate to lead Boro to Wembley and promotion this season, for his players to get their rewards for their "sacrifices" and the fans for their incredible support.

But for all this week's setback hurts now - and will for a while - Carrick knows the pain must be directed into coming back stronger next season.

He said: "We have a lot of young players in the dressing room who haven't had this type of experience before. The tough ones are always the ones you learn from the most, even though it's horrible to go through.

"We have a bit of time over the summer now to think about, learn from it and come back from it.

"We’ve got to use this as the foundation - as hard as it is to sit here in this moment and say that.

"I didn’t want to have to be sitting here and saying that, but that is the reality. Without thinking too far ahead, we’ve got to use this to build on."

Boro weren't helped by a string of untimely injuries to key men in the final weeks of the season, with Jonny Howson and Aaron Ramsey both missing on Wednesday, but Carrick said: “I’m not here to make excuses. Injuries are part of the game. Of course it didn’t help, they never do.

"But I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. We’ve just got to take it on the chin. We’ve been dealt the cards we’ve been dealt, and we couldn’t quite pull it off."


He added: “The disappointment is big, not so much for myself but for the group - for the players and the staff, and the supporters and the club in general.

"I’m in a position where you try and help and guide to take on the responsibility of trying to produce for the football club. We just fell a little bit short, but I’m hugely proud of all of them.

"The players have been unbelievable and it genuinely is a special group - one of the best group of people I’ve been involved with, and I really can’t fault them.

"That’s what’s disappointing more than anything, because they’ve given everything they possibly could and didn’t  get what I think they deserved, not in terms of a football sense, but deserved in term of what they gave and what they sacrificed. So that hurts me to think that they’ve not been able to achieve what I wanted them to."

The Boro boss quickly established a strong bond between the fans and the side and repeatedly thanked supporters for their backing this season.

He said: "We’ve built a connection with the supporters over time and it’s grown and grown home and away. We appreciate the time, the effort and the money that they put into supporting us because it’s incredible."