Rotherham United v Middlesbrough: Karanka is expecting tough test

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka.
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AITOR KARANKA is urging his Middlesbrough side to heed the lessons of their recent away defeat at Wolves when they step out at the New York Stadium today.

A rare black mark on the Teeesiders’ away form arrived at Molineux on October 21 when they were well beaten 2-0 – their first defeat on the road since August 16.

Karanka accepts the Teessiders will face a searching examination at Rotherham today and is demanding that his side stay strong, while being respectful of what the Millers have achieved this season.

He said: “Rotherham is a very tough game. We have to learn from our game at Wolves.

“They are a team that was in League One last season, it is a very tough team and we have to forget how we played against Watford because it is a completely different team.

“It is a typical Championship team, a team who likes to play but usually plays long balls to their strikers so, for this reason, I expect a different game from Watford.”

In terms of Steve Evans, the respect is mutual regarding his take on Boro, whom he believes are play-off certainties and possible contenders for the Championship top two.

His Millers side are seeking to extend their unbeaten six-game run today and while recognising the extent of his side’s task, the last thing they will be feeling is cowed, especially given recent home wins over Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers.

Evans, who checked out Boro in their recent victory at Brighton, said: “I called my chairman coming back from the Amex and said to him this is a real benchmark, a club who have spent money, but who have done it very quietly and assuredly.

“Probably because they are up there in the north-east, they do not get the media headlines that some of the boys in the London area get.

“They have got some real quality. Kike is an exceptional talent and Leadbitter has been stunning. They are strong all round. They are strong defensively and have got a real energy about them. I think they will finish for sure in the play-offs. Automatic wouldn’t surprise me.”