Middlesbrough v Leicester City: Michael Carrick effusive in praise for Foxes but Boro still out for win
The Foxes have been the early pace-setters in the second tier, building a healthy lead and collecting a string of wins with relative ease.
Speaking ahead of the meeting between the sides, Carrick said: “I’ve been hugely impressed with what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.
"It’s not easy, I think you can look at it individual player-wise, and as a squad, they’re largely a Premier League team really and a Premier League club.
"That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to drop down and put the results together that they have done and play so well. It’s credit to them for that.
"It’s a big test for us but it’s a good one. It's a terrific football game, really good for us to do what we’re good at and still try and win the game.
"Yeah, they’re in a good position in the league and they're top, and rightly so, for the run they’ve been on.
"We approach it for us and trying and be the best version of us, and go into the game trying to win for sure.”
Clubs relegated from the Premier League are usually fancied for an immediate return to the top flight.
However, there have been a number of examples in recent years of clubs being marooned in the Championship after tumbling out of the Premier League.
Carrick said: “It sounds straightforward and it seems almost teams coming down should bounce straight back up if they keep a good part of the squad together and Premier League players, and proven Premier League players. It’s not always as easy as that.
"A new manager coming in, I think he’s done very well and he can clearly see how he wants to play.
"They’re coached very, very well so there’s a lot of work that’s gone on. I’m sure they’ll be right up there at the end of the season. If not winning the league, they’ll be in the top two I’d say.”