MICHAEL CARRICK is confident his Middlesbrough players will be able to bounce back from Tuesday’s harrowing Carabao Cup thrashing at the hands of Chelsea.

Boro travelled to Stamford Bridge with high hopes of reaching their first major final in two decades after winning 1-0 on Teesside in the first leg of the semi-final.

But their dreams of a return to Wembley were blown away inside the opening 45 minutes as Chelsea’s attackers exploited some kamikaze Boro defending to race to a four-goal lead.

The Blues added two more goals in the second half, and while Morgan Rogers slotted home a late consolation, Boro’s squad were licking their wounds as they headed back north.

The dust has now settled, and while the Teessiders do not have a game this weekend, thoughts have begun to turn to the resumption of the Championship programme a week on Sunday, when North-East rivals Sunderland visit the Riverside.

Boro currently sit 11th in the table, three points adrift of the play-off places, and Carrick insists there is still plenty to be excited about despite Tuesday’s disappointment.


The Boro boss said: “It’s what next that is important, and it’s up to us now. Whatever happened (against Chelsea), the league was always going to be there for us and we need to finish strong now.

“We’re right in the thick of it. It’s tight in the league and we’ll look forward to a good end to the season. We have to move on from this disappointment, take the positives from it, learn from it and come back stronger.”

While Boro are out of the FA Cup, they have a blank weekend as their scheduled opponents, Birmingham City, are in fourth-round action against Leicester City.

The break could prove beneficial given the events of the last week, with a number of Boro’s injured players edging towards a first-team return.

Carrick said: “In some ways, it (gap) could help. We’ll make the most of it. The boys will have a couple of days off.

“We’ll refresh and try to get one or two back fit if we can. At the same point, we’ll take a bit of a breath really because it’s going to be thick and fast again.

“Up until now, it has been very thick and fast, so now is the time to take a bit of a breath and come back again next week.”