Middlesbrough v Liverpool: Aitor Karanka shuts out the noise to focus on retaining Boro's balance

HEAD COACH Aitor Karanka is well versed in dealing with a cacophony of noise from dissenting sections of Middlesbrough's fanbase.

Alvaro Negredo is a fitness doubt for Middlesbrough ahead of the visit of Liverpool.

It is a case of plus ca change – certainly in respect of this season – ahead of tonight’s home encounter with Liverpool, with Karanka criticised for a perceived unadventurous approach in Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Southampton.

His attacking options could be strengthened this evening by the return to fitness of Alvaro Negredo, with Adama Traore also likely to come into his thoughts. However, Gaston Ramirez is set to miss out again.

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The game sees the lowest scorers in the top -flight in Boro take on the side with the best goalscoring record in Liverpool, but Karanka is quick to refute the charge that a lack of goals is a key issue for his side.

Just as he stayed steadfast and was not for turning earlier this season when being criticised for not fielding two forwards, so you can expect Karanka to stick to his guns tonight – and beyond.

Boro have scored 13 goals in 15 Premier League matches, but Karanka said: “I think it is not a problem.

“The main thing is the balance. We have an amazing balance. When I came here, the first thing was to stop conceding.

“From that we started to improve and grow. We are in the Premier League now and really consistent. Again, creating the chances we created against Southampton, we will score. It is not about how many goals you score, it is about goal difference.”

Karanka added that Negredo will only feature if he has no doubts about his fitness.

Last six games: Middlesbrough WDLDWL Liverpool WDWWLD.

Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).

Last time: Middlesbrough 2 Liverpool 0; February 28, 2009; Premier League.