AITOR KARANKA has pledged not to take any risks with the fitness of striker Kei Kamara.
The Sierra Leone international, signed from MLS side Sporting Kansas City in September, is back in the fray following a knee injury and struck twice in the week in Boro Under-21s’ win over Arsenal at Rockliffe Park.
It was his first appearance since the game at Birmingham City on December 7 and he played for 90 minutes before being replaced just before the final whistle.
His availability this weekend is a boost for Karanka, but the Basque is expected to make a late call as to whether to include Kamara in his match-day plans.
He said: “Let’s see how Kei feels. He was tired after the game against Arsenal which is natural because he’s been out for one month.
“But he scored two goals and that will be good for his confidence.
“The most important thing is his knee was all right afterwards.”
Karanka’s selection options have been further boosted by the arrival of highly-rated Chelsea teenager Nathaniel Chalobah on loan for the rest of the season, with the player having recently completed a loan spell at Nottingham Forest.
Chalobah burst onto the scene in a fine loan spell at Watford last season.
His parent club are eager for him to continue his football education at Boro, with Blues chief Jose Mourinho close to Karanka.
The relationship between the pair, who worked together at Real Madrid, resulted in Chelsea’s Nigerian international defender Kenneth Omerou heading to Teesside previously.
Omerou missed out on a debut in last weekend’s victory at Blackpool, with Karanka easing him in gently.
It remains to be seen whether Omerou is handed some game-time against the Addicks, with Danny Ayala and Rhys Williams impressing at Bloomfield Road.
Karanka is positive Omerou will get his chance, but says: “The important thing is that the players are playing very well at the moment; they are playing very well. Ken is improving and he needs to keep working.
“He knows how difficult it is to play in this league; there are many games to come and he needs to be ready.”