Brentford v Middlesbrough: Karanka is eager to retain ‘improving’ Kike at Boro

Striker Kike has impressed as David Nugent's stand-in during Middlesbrough's last three games (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
Striker Kike has impressed as David Nugent's stand-in during Middlesbrough's last three games (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
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MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Aitor Karanka has stressed that he wants to keep Spanish striker Kike, who has been linked with a move to Wolves.

Karanka takes his side to Brentford tonight and while the bulk of the January transfer talk has focused on possible striking arrivals, with Boro tipped to move for the likes of Ross McCormack or Jordan Rhodes, attention has switched to a potential exit.

After the £10m move of Benik Afobe to Bournemouth, Wolves are focusing on reinforcements with Kike’s name reportedly high on their shopping list.

Karanka said: “Yes (I want to keep Kike) because with him we’ve won the last three (league) games when David (Nugent) was out.

“He’s a good kid, he’s improving, he’s good in the changing room, so for that reason I would like to keep him here.

“(But) in football can you say ‘I’m not going to sell if we receive an amazing offer for Kike?’”

Leaders Boro, who lost in the cup at the weekend, are seeking their sixth Championship win over the Bees since their promotion to the second tier in 2013-14.

But recently-appointed Bees manager Dean Smith is paying little heed to that statistic.

He added: “I know that people are talking around the place that they seem to be a bit of a bogey team, but they are only a bogey team to the players and staff who have played them before; I am not one of them.

“Middlesbrough have quality in abundance and are very organised.

“But there are chinks of light for us and chinks of light in their armour as well that we have looked at, analysed and have been working on.”

Last six games: Brentford LWDWLL, Middlesbrough DWWWWL.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

Last time: Brentford 1 Middlesbrough 2; May 8, 2015; Championship play-off.