Steep learning curve continues for Boro chief Karanka at Birmingham

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Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka continues his crash course to life in English football today with a trip to St Andrew’s.

The Boro boss has endured a tough baptism in the north-east, with defeats at Leeds United and Derby County coming either side of a 1-0 win over Bolton.

Today he takes his side to Birmingham City as he runs the rule over a squad which he is still assessing after taking over from Tony Mowbray.

“It’s my most difficult work, choosing who will be the first 18 and after that who will be the 11 who play,” he said.

“But it’s my job and I’m very happy to have this problem rather than sitting in my office with only 12 or 13 players to choose from. I have 26 players ready to play and it’s a hard decision but I’m happy to have this situation.

“I’m happy with my players because some I’ve had the same feeling since the beginning, every player giving 100 per cent every day.

“At Leeds I didn’t know the players like I do now.

“We’ve been working together for three weeks and on Wednesday I watched a team who were very, very compact playing against a Derby team who play very good football but didn’t give our goalkeeper a lot of problems.

“I’ve said from the first day, this is a long distance race and the club and supporters and everyone need to be together.

“I prepare for every game as the most important game. I don’t think if we win on Saturday that we will be thinking about the play-offs and I don’t think that if we lose we will be thinking about the bottom positions. We’re always thinking about the next game.”