MICHAEL CARRICK is delighted to have a fit and firing Isaiah Jones available for the climax of Middlesbrough’s battle to try to make the play-offs.

Boro closed to within six points of the play-off places as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 on Easter Monday, and while they remain outsiders to finish in the top six, having played a game more than the two sides directly above them in the table, they remain part of the mix with six games to go.

Jones is set to play a crucial role in those remaining six fixtures, with fears of an injury in the closing stages of Friday’s draw at Southampton having been eradicated when he lined up to take on Sheffield Wednesday.

The winger scored Boro’s second goal against the Owls, looping in a shot that deflected off Barry Bannan, and while he should have done better with a first-half shot that was sliced wide, he troubled the Wednesday defence all afternoon with his darting breaks down the right-hand side.

“It was just a bit of cramp for Izzy at Southampton, so he was fine (to play on Monday),” said Carrick, whose side have another home game on Saturday with Swansea City visiting the Riverside. “Is he claiming the goal? But seriously, I’m delighted for him.

“He was a threat throughout. He had a good chance in the first half that he was disappointed to miss. But the key was that he gave us that threat and that spark, just like he did on Friday.”


Jones failed to finish Monday’s game as he was withdrawn in the closing stages, just as he had been at St Mary’s.

However, Carrick sought to remove any fears of another injury issue, explaining that both Jones and Emmanuel Latte Lath had been substituted to guard against any potential fatigue issues in what was a second game in the space of three days.

“We took him (Jones) and Manu off towards the end because of the type of players they are,” said Carrick. “They’re quite explosive - you’ve got to look after them.”

With Jones and Latte Lath leading Boro’s aggressive press from the attacking positions, Carrick was delighted with the way in which his side set about unsettling their opponents during Monday’s win.

“We pressed really well after the first 15 minutes or so, once we settled into it,” he said. “After that, I thought we were largely in control.

“We played some good football, and probably should have created more clear-cut chances than we did. But to keep a clean sheet, score two and play well, we’ll definitely take that.”