MICHAEL Carrick faces an anxious wait to see how Hayden Hackney and Dael Fry's injuries settle down after the key duo were forced to miss Tuesday night's win over Preston.

In the absence of the pair, Boro still managed to stick four past North End on the way to their biggest home win of the season so far - but with Leeds United and Ipswich up next in a crucial and busy spell, Carrick will be desperately hoping the two Teessiders aren't facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“They both felt niggles towards the end of the game on Saturday - Hayden in his groin, Dael his hamstring," explained Carrick.

"It was just the last couple of days so we’re still assessing the severity of both at the moment to see where they’re at. It tends to be the way it’s going at the minute."

Boro are also still waiting to discover the extent of Lukas Engel's knee injury after the full-back had to be replaced in the second half of the defeat at Bristol City, and there was brief concern of a further blow on Tuesday night when Seny Dieng needed treatment against Preston - but the keeper was able to continue.

Carrick said: “Lukas is a little different because his was a twist of the knee as his foot got caught in the ground. Because that’s not a muscle we have to see how it settles down over the next few days.

“Seny had an issue in the first half, which, if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure what it was. He was fine, thankfully. He got over it and he was fine.

"We had eight senior lads out tonight which is the makings of a pretty good team in itself. But that’s just the way it is and it’s why we have the squad that we have. We can’t make excuses we’ve just got to make the most of it, and to be fair, the boys cracked on with it tonight, and we’ll prepare again and do our best for Saturday."

Despite missing so many key players, with Tommy Smith, Darragh Lenihan, Marcus Forss and Riley McGree also among those out of action, Boro made light work of Preston, with the win wrapped up by half-time thanks to a fine double from Isaiah Jones and Rav van den Berg's first goal for the club. Alex Bangura followed van den Berg's lead and scored his first Boro goal deep in stoppage time.


Carrick said:  “I don’t think it was our best performance, to be honest. I think we played very well in spells, but it probably sums football up that because I think overall performance-wise we’ve probably played better in some games.

"But, of course, it’s goals at both ends of the pitch that ultimately matter and I thought we were ruthless tonight. We created a lot, we looked dangerous and I thought we defended very well in terms of limiting them to not very much at all really.

"We defended our box so well considering it was a new back four; they certainly hadn’t played together before. I thought we defended terrifically well, so I was delighted with that.

"We were good in spells and the game drifted a bit in other spells. But 4-0, we’ll definitely take that.

“I can’t fault the boys’ attitude. Sometimes things will go for them and other times they won’t. I can’t ever fault their attitude. I actually felt confident going into the game tonight because the boys looked ready, it was a good balance to the team and quite new in some ways. I thought we’d be in good shape and it proved to be the case. I'm really happy."