AITOR KARANKA wants actions not words from his Middlesbrough players in their quest to redress the balance today.
The Teesside club failed to deliver in Easter outings against Reading and Millwall, with the greater desire of their Championship rivals pinpointed by the Basque as a major factor in the losses.
This afternoon’s game with the Reds, fighting for their lives and aware that only victory will do at the Riverside, offers a similar scenario of Boro facing opponents with everything to play for while they have nothing riding on the game, on paper.
But, having gone public and questioned the collective mentality of his players, while also shouldering some of the responsibility himself – particularly for Tuesday’s limp defeat at the Madejski Stadium – Boro’s head coach is hoping that his frank approach yields a positive response from his mid-table side.
Not just today, but also in Middlesbrough’s seasonal swansong at bottom-of-the-table Yeovil next weekend.
Karanka, who has confirmed that Kei Kamara is back in training again after hernia surgery, said: “The players have to be competitive in the last two games.
“They also need to train well. The season does not finish until the final whistle blows at Yeovil.
“The best place for the players to impress me is on the pitch. I’d rather see them on the pitch than in the office now.
“These two games will show me what their mentalities are like.”
One home player who certainly is not short of any motivation this afternoon is winger Adam Reach, desperate for involvement in Boro’s final two matches after returning from a productive loan spell at Bradford City.
He could feature in Boro’s final home game this term as Karanka seeks a winning response from a disappointing Easter, which put paid to Boro’s faint hopes of gatecrashing the play-offs.