AITOR KARANKA has bridled at talk he will show favouritism to compatriot Tomas Mejias Osorio in the quest to be Boro’s No 1.
The 25-year-old has swapped La Liga for the Championship after joining the Teessiders from Karanka’s former club, Real Madrid, and will vie with Jason Steele for the goalkeeping gloves once loan custodian Shay Given returns to Aston Villa at the end of the month.
With Given between the posts, Boro have kept nine clean sheets in 14 outings, with the defensive deficiencies which bedevilled them earlier this term having been replaced by problems at the other end of the pitch.
Steele is closing in on a return to action following an ankle injury, with Boro having Given for just one more match, the televised home encounter with Leeds United at the Riverside on Saturday.
It is unclear whether Steele will be fit for the game the following weekend against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, with Karanka having no preconceptions about who will be his first-choice No 1 in the longer term.
Karanka, who is sweating on the fitness of in-form Muzzy Carayol (muscle strain) ahead of the trip to Watford, said: “The first thing for Tomas is to adapt and settle in here, because it is his first move away from Real Madrid.
“I know him from my time there and I have a lot of confidence in him but he needs to challenge with the other keepers.
“People will think that because I know him it will be easy for him to get in the team once Shay goes back to Aston Villa, but that is not true. He needs to fight for his position on the training ground and he has the same opportunity as the other keepers.
“I hope he can be a No 1 for us one day because I have known him a long time. He is a very good keeper, but he needs to train and win the position. He has a very good future.
“Shay is an unbelievable keeper with experience and Tomas is a young player and he needs to gain more experience and confidence. He isn’t playing at this moment, but he needs to train and fight for the position.
“Jason is getting stronger each day and he will play with the Under-21s soon.”