MICHAEL CARRICK admits his Middlesbrough squad is currently being stretched to the limit – but insists that should not be an excuse for this afternoon’s 2-0 defeat to Ipswich Town.

Boro were without nine senior players through either injury or suspension as they were beaten at the Riverside, with Carrick having to name untried youngsters Law McCabe, Finn Cartwright and AJ Bridge on the substitutes’ bench.

Matt Clarke and Dael Fry were thrust together at centre-half as the former made his first start for more than a year, and Boro were second best throughout as Ipswich secured victory thanks to goals from Conor Chaplin and Omari Hutchinson.


“We’ve got a number of games coming up, and the squad is the squad,” said Carrick, whose side have now lost three of their last four games. “We would like everyone to choose from, but it is what it is.

“We’ve got to try and work hard to get whoever we can back and go with whatever we’ve got. We don’t use it as an excuse though. That’s the challenge we’ve got - we’ve got to make the best of it.”

Boro’s best chance of this afternoon’s game came to nothing towards the end of the first half as Emmanuel Latte Lath fired wide after cutting in from the left touchline.

The Teessiders struggled to create chances in the final third, and were unable to seriously threaten Vaclav Hladky in the Ipswich goal. Indeed, Hladky’s biggest concern probably came when one of his own players, Luke Woolfenden, almost headed Dan Barlaser’s free-kick into his own net.

“We’re disappointed,” said Carrick. “We knew coming in that they were a good team and we’d have to be at our best to get a result, but we were just a little bit short. We were short on a number of things, and just not quite firing.

“Second half, we improved with a number of things, notably our pressing and regains. And as it was going, I fancied us to get back in the game. But the second goal comes from nothing really.

“We had to try and press, and that leaves a bit of space. I think it was their second shot on target and we find ourselves 2-0 down. I feel for the boys in terms of their effort - they just lacked that fine edge and quality, really, in the big moments.”