Fourth-placed Boro host Cardiff City tonight on an evening when leaders Bournemouth visit Leeds United, with the Cherries’ four points above the Teessiders.
Just five points separate the top five, with second-placed Ipswich Town heading to Brighton tomorrow, but Boro head coach Karanka wants his side to focus solely on their own business.
Karanka, who has no fresh injury problems, said: “We have to play thinking about ourselves only.
“We need to forget other teams. We are doing our homework on the games we have to play, that is our focus.
“We cannot go in to games thinking about other games and teams. We have to think only about ourselves.
“Last season I think Burnley and Leicester were very high at this stage, but this season I always thought it would be a tight league and we have to think about what we are doing.”
On that same notion of not getting sidetracked, Karanka says that no one will be thinking about the forthcoming glamour FA Cup tie at Manchester City on Saturday, with tonight’s clash taking considerable precedence.
He added: “The special match is (tonight) against Cardiff.
“We have time to speak about the game against Manchester City on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
“The players and everyone else know how important the City game is, but I have not heard one player speak about Saturday. “
Last six: Middlesbrough LWDWDW, Cardiff City LDLWWL.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).
Last time: Middlesbrough 2 Cardiff City 1; March 2, 2013; Championship.