MICHAEL CARRICK thinks Emmanuel Latte Lath will benefit from his half hour against Plymouth Argyle – even if Middlesbrough had little else to be proud of.

And now the Boro head coach wants to see a response from his players at Stoke City this Saturday, knowing the Potters have slipped into the Championship’s relegation places.

The manner of the 2-0 defeat to Plymouth two days ago has alarmed many fans.

Those supporters booed at numerous stages during the first half, as well as half-time and full-time to let their frustrations known.

But if there was one positive to come from the afternoon it was the sight of Latte Lath coming through more than half an hour of football after a lay-off with a foot injury.

The 25-year-old, who is the only fit, recognised striker, didn’t really have the impact that was needed against Argyle, but his first minutes since January’s Carabao Cup first-leg tie with Chelsea provided a welcome boost.

Carrick said: “Manu was back out there as one positive. He hadn’t done a lot of training in the week before this one, but to have him back out there on the pitch was still good, with the games coming up in mind.

“Apart from that, no, there were no positives to take. The beauty of football is that there is always another game to play and we need to be a hell of a lot better as a group, me included, for the next one.”


Latte Lath, who has seven goals this season since moving from Atalanta, has not played in a league game since before Christmas. The ongoing injury problems for Josh Coburn mean the Ivorian’s return is even more timely.

Even though Carrick likes his team to be fluid, Middlesbrough have lacked that attacking option where he knows a player like Latte Lath will play higher up the pitch and look to break in behind. All eyes now turn to Stoke, with the boss to decide who will start.

“Every game is different and we knew we couldn’t get carried away on one game (after beating Leicester),” said Carrick.

“It’s always over a period of time if you want to be successful. We have to just look at next week now and nothing beyond it. We have to have a good week’s training and have a good week heading into Stoke.”

With Middlesbrough sitting 11 points shy of the top six, and just nine points above the relegation zone, the supporters were clearly annoyed by their first-half showing against Plymouth.

The Pilgrims had not won any of their last four and ended up winning away from home for only the second time this season – without Middlesbrough recording a shot on target.

Asked what he thought of the fans’ negative reaction, Carrick said: “There’s no point me saying much to the fans. It’s about the team. It’s about me putting the work into getting the best out of the team. We have had good days here, we had a good day last week (at Leicester).

“I have to support the players the most when we are having tough days and Saturday was one of those. That’s when the support counts the most.

“Right now I’m disappointed with a lot of things. Myself as much as anything. I am upbeat in terms of moving forward. But this has come along and we have to deal with it and accept it. We have to fight back.”