Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka insists he will not worry about a troublesome injury list ahead of a “special” League Cup fourth-round trip to Manchester United.
After a much-needed win in the Championship at the weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers, along with a fresh face in the shape of on-loan Manchester City midfielder Bruno Zuculini, the Spanish coach is relishing the prospect of leading his side at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
“The game against Manchester United is special,” Karanka told a news conference. “The players don’t need extra motivation because to play against [United] is motivation enough and everyone wants to play.”
The former Real Madrid assistant coach brought in Zuculini after injuries to Albert Adomah, Adam Forshaw and Cristhian Stuani left his midfield threadbare, while Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton are teetering on the verge of suspensions with four yellow cards apiece.
But Karanka is adamant he will still field his best XI for the tie, where Boro will look to repeat the heroics of their shock 2-0 FA Cup win at Manchester City in January.
“It is difficult to think about the team for Old Trafford – I have players with four yellow cards so we may have to change the team, but I will try to put out the best 11 to try and beat them.”
This will be Karanka’s first meeting with United boss Louis van Gaal but he feels prepared for the challenge due to lessons learned at the Santiago Bernabeu under Jose Mourinho, who was assistant to the Dutchman during his time in charge of Barcelona.
“I played against Van Gaal’s team when he was in Barcelona and Jose was his assistant,” Karanka added.
“He is an interesting coach and he is particularly interesting for me because I have learned with Jose and Jose learned from Van Gaal.
“I took the lessons from Jose so I feel I have learned from van Gaal too.”