MIDDLESBROUGH manager Aitor Karanka will not be throwing youngsters in at the deep end after admitting their play-off hopes disappeared with defeat at Millwall.
Ahead of tonight’s trip to play-off chasing Reading at the Madejski Stadium, Karanka said: “I will field my strongest line-up in all of the games we have left. I will not make big changes. I have to respect the competition.
“Reading are going for the play-offs, Barnsley are battling against relegation, so we have to respect the competition. I will head into these final two weeks in the same way as we have approached all of the games.”
Boro, whose first defeat in six outings on Saturday saw them drop to 13th, will have an important say in the relegation battle as they host next-to-bottom Barnsley on Saturday before their final game, a trip to basement club Yeovil.
There is also the matter of Yorkshire pride at stake with Boro the top White Rose side in the Championship, five points clear of Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United.
Tonight, Boro are without injured duo Mustapha Carayol and Kei Kamara, while defender George Friend will face a late fitness test after he missed the Millwall defeat with a knock.
Reading are missing midfielder Danny Guthrie (thigh).
Last six games: Reading LDWLDL, Middlesbrough DWWWWL.
Referee: J Adcock (Notts).
Last time: Reading 0 Middlesbrough 0; October 1, 2011; Championship.