FORMER Middlesbrough captain Rhys Williams has set his sights on a Boro renaissance under Aitor Karanka – preferably at centre-back.
The Australia international, subject of a £6m bid from today’s Riverside opponents Bolton as recently as January, 2012, has suffered along with the Teessiders during a terrible 2013 and is hoping for a clean slate and better fortune under Karanka.
Williams was on the bench in last weekend’s loss at Leeds United – when the former Real Madrid assistant manager took charge for the first time – after only returning from international duty for Australia against Costa Rica two days earlier.
He is eyeing a first appearance under the Basque against the rejuvenated Trotters as Boro seek just their third home win this season.
Williams, used at right-back by caretaker-chief Mark Venus ahead of the arrival of Karanka, said: “I want to show the boss what I can do and, hopefully, with a week’s training behind me, I will be back in.
“I am just focusing on getting back in the team sooner rather than later. It was pretty understandable not to start after being away on international duty in the week leading up to the Leeds game.
“I am very keen to get a start under the new manager. My hope is that he will play me at centre-back which is likely to be my position for Australia now.
“That’s the spot which looks to be up for grabs for the national team and I have had a quick word with the manager at Boro and told him my preference – but he is the boss and it is down to him.”
Veteran goalkeeper Shay Given is set for his debut for Boro to become one of the exclusive band of players to feature for the North East’s top three clubs after arriving on a month’s loan.
The 37-year-old will deputise for suspended Jason Steele in preference to Swiss Jayson Leutwiler, who made his debut following Steele’s red mist at Elland Road last weekend.
Given is the first player to feature for Boro, Newcastle and Sunderland since Alan Foggon in the Seventies, with a deal finalised with Aston Villa shortly before Thursday’s loan deadline.
Boro were pipped by Derby County in the race to sign Manchester United defender Michael Keane on loan.