MARQUEE loan recruits Nathaniel Chalobah and Kenneth Omeruo are being kept away from the fray in this afternoon’s daunting encounter at Championship leaders Leicester City.
The clash pits the division’s two form sides together, with the flying Foxes seeking their seventh league victory in a row and Boro, who have given themselves a sniff of propelling themselves into the play-off spots if their good run continues, unbeaten in their past six league outings.
That run has seen them pick up 16 points from the last 18, but today’s test at the King Power Stadium, a ground where they have never won, represents their sternest examination under manager Aitor Karanka.
The Basque is keeping faith with the squad who have served him so well since Christmas, with Chelsea loan duo Chalobah and Omeruo not even travelling to Leicester.
Nigerian international defender Omeruo has spent two weeks training with Boro’s first-team squad, with Chalobah having a full week’s training under his belt after joining until the end of the season from the Blues, managed by Karanka’s footballing mentor, Jose Mourinho.
It had been expected that the pair would be on the bench, but Karanka is instead concentrating on their fitness, with Boro facing three games over the course of seven days and feels it is too early to introduce them to the first team.
Karanka said: “They will not be in the squad because they are not ready.
“Nathaniel has only been here for seven days. Kenneth has been here a little bit more but that is not really long enough to get to know my philosophy. The team is playing very well right now and they will have to wait for their opportunity.”
While Karanka has been busy bringing in Chalobah and Omeruo, several players have headed out with Richie Smallwood, Adam Reach and Luke Williams having joined Rotherham United, Bradford City and Hartlepool United respectively on loan.
Rhys Williams is also being strongly linked with Swansea City, who are expected to make a formal £1.5m offer before the transfer window closes.