Aitor Karanka is expecting a difficult contest when Burnley arrive at the Riverside Stadium tonight.
Sean Dyche’s team have dealt with the impact of relegation exceptionally well, firmly involving themselves with a pack at the top of the Championship chasing automatic promotion.
One of the teams fifth-placed Burnley are hunting are Karanka’s Middlesbrough.
Dyche’s team are five points behind Middlesbrough in second, and Karanka clearly views tonight’s match as a huge tie in the scope of the season.
He said: “It is a big game again. They were in the Premier League last season. We played against them in my first season at Middlesbrough, and they are a really good team.
“They have an experienced, good manager. They got promoted two seasons ago with essentially the same team.
“They will fight until the end to get promoted again, they are a team filled with character. It is a tough game, but we have to look at ourselves, especially because we are at home.”
While Karanka knows Burnley have talented players at their disposal, he thinks if his side play to their strengths, they can still manage a result.
He continued: “Burnley are a tough team with experience and strong players with character.
“We will have to play in our style, because it is the only way that we can beat them.”
After the disappointment of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Birmingham, Karanka reaffirmed his view that the second half was one of Boro’s best periods this season.
“We had a lot of chances to score,” he said.
“The conditions were very tough for the players, but the attitude was amazing.”