AITOR KARANKA has issued a warning to his upwardly-mobile Middlesbrough side about the importance of turning the Riverside Stadium into a citadel.
Boro head into tonight’s game with basement club Blackpool with memories of their recent 4-0 home routing of Brentford at the forefront of fans’ minds.
Despite that thumping win over the Bees, Boro’s home league form has been mixed this term, with the club recording two wins and two defeats, with the losses coming against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
Boro are strong favourites this evening against opponents who have won just once on the road since early November and are without a win this season.
But Karanka is demanding no let-up or complacency against the Seasiders, who are likely to include ex-Boro players Tony McMahon and Ishmael Miller in their starting line-up.
He said: “We have to win the games at home if we want to do something this season.
“We have lost a lot of points at home and I always say the same thing, ‘If we want to do something this season, we have to be strong at home’.”
Boro will be without suspended winger Albert Adomah following his dismissal for two bookable offences at Charlton at the weekend, but Karanka is expecting him to cast aside the disappointment of that and his fateful late penalty miss in the epic Capital One Cup shoot-out loss at Liverpool.
Karanka said: “Albert is an experienced player, he has been at the World Cup with his national team and I hope he is going to play the African Cup of Nations tournament in January.
“He is the kind of player who is intelligent, and I am sure he is thinking about the last two games.
“But in Spain we say, ‘The person who missed the penalty is the person who takes the penalty’. He had the confidence to take the penalty, and that is important. When it comes to the sending off, I still cannot believe what happened on Saturday.”
Kenneth Omeruo is doubtful for Boro, for whom influential captain Grant Leadbitter is likely to start after being rested at the weekend.
Dean Whitehead is suspended, while Jelle Vossen and Jonathan Woodgate will not be involved.
Last six: Middlesbrough LWWWDD; Blackpool LLDLDL.
Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire).
Last time: Middlesbrough 1 Blackpool 1; August 17, 2013; Championship.