Middlesbrough v Birmingham City: Sales will just have to wait for Boro’s chief

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AITOR KARANKA admits he is too preoccupied with negotiating Boro’s imposing December programme to give the opening of the January transfer window serious consideration yet.

The Teessiders are being linked with a second move for Patrick Bamford, who has struggled for opportunities thus far in a season-long loan at Crystal Palace, in the new year – a development that would go down considerably well with the Boro faithful.

Karanka has straight-batted talk of another bid for Bamford, who proved a wow on Teesside last season with his performances earning him the Championship ‘Player of the Year’ accolade.

But while Boro’s recruitment team, led by head of recruitment and former player Gary Gill, are working hard on targets behind the scenes, Karanka is keeping firmly focused on matters on the pitch, with his side facing a host of rivals at the top of the table in a big December.

That starts with Birmingham this afternoon, with Burnley then due at the Riverside in midweek before Boro visit leaders Brighton in seven days’ time – and host Sheffield Wednesday on December 28.

Karanka, whose side also face a tough trip to improving Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day, said: “A lot can happen between now and January.

“We could win five or six games and be at the top of the table, six points above third position, or we could lose five games and be four or five points below the top two.

“But I can’t waste my time thinking about what is going to happen in January because there are a lot of games and a lot of things can happen.”

Birmingham remain without two of their most influential players today, with Yorkshireman Clayton Donaldson missing along with former Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley and Sheffield United winger David Cotterill.