Return likely to benefit both Graham and Boro

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AITOR KARANKA hopes familiarity will breed content for returning striker Danny Graham.

The Gateshead-born forward, who started his career at the Riverside Stadium, saw his second coming begin with a substitute’s appearance at Doncaster Rovers last weekend, after arriving the previous day in a loan deal from North East neighbours Sunderland.

Graham admits he is desperate to relight his scoring fires at Boro after a barren streak on loan at Hull City in the first half of 2013-14 which followed his goal-scoring travails for the Black Cats and Swansea in 2013, when he netted just twice.

The targetman, who hit 27 goals in his last full Championship campaign, at Watford, featured at Rovers despite hardly training as his future hung in the balance.

But he is fit and raring to go ahead of his re-introduction to the Riverside faithful today, with Karanka confident that the 28-year-old can provide the goalscoring boost he is after and aid Boro’s recent stuttering form in front of goal.

Karanka, who welcomes back top-scorer Albert Adomah and Jonathan Woodgate, said: “The fact he (Graham) knows this club will help him settle back in.

“He knows our methodology, because he has worked with Brendan Rodgers at Swansea and that is similar to the way we like to play. He is training very well.

“He needs to play. I don’t know if he can play 90 minutes because we need a lot of intensity in our game and he needs to be fitter as soon as possible, but he’s a player that will help us a lot.

“He’s very confident and he’s very happy to be here. He knows the club well. He just needs to have confidence, because you can see in training he’s a very good player. I hope he will be an important player for us.

“I don’t think there’s a better player than Danny who could score goals for us in this league.

“He’s a good player and someone who grew up here and he knows the club, the people.

“He will be an important player in the dressing room, because he is a Premier League player and has that experience.”

Veteran central defender Woodgate is expected to start his first match since December 26 today, with January signing Daniel Ayala (ankle) sidelined for up to eight weeks.