BEWARE the wounded Wolves.
That is the warning from Aitor Karanka, who takes his high-flying Middlesbrough side to Wolverhampton Wanderers tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).
Following their escape from League One, Kenny Jackett’s team started the season in style but have not won in four Sky Bet Championship fixtures.
Wolves appeared to have turned the corner on Saturday at the Den where they went three up in the second half.
But Millwall hit back and two late Ricardo Fuller goals inside six minutes gave the Lions a 3-3 draw.
Wolves, though, are only three points behind third-placed Boro, who are a mere point behind leaders Watford.
“They came up from League One and started the season well,” said Karanka, whose side are looking to extend their unbeaten sequence to eight matches.
“Their run of results have not been good but they are a strong side who play with a high intensity.
“I expect a typical Championship game and a hard game. Wolves did not win on Saturday but they will try to put that behind them tonight.
“They are at home and they will want to recover.”
It is another vital game for Boro, who could be top in their own right come Saturday night if they win tonight and then again at the weekend.
Watford are the visitors to the Riverside on Saturday but Karanka told BBC Tees that the Hornets are not on his mind.
“It is a big week and important games,” he said. “But my only focus is Wolves and I will only think about Watford after tonight.”
Boro approach both ‘W’ tests with morale high following Saturday’s 2-1 success at Brighton & Hove Albion.
“The squad are very confident at the moment which is very important, not just the players who are on the pitch but those coming off the bench too,” said Karanka.
“We have improved our squad and the players believe in the team.”
Karanka says he and the players are keeping their feet on the ground despite the rising expectations on Teesside.
The Boro faithful are mentioning the P-word already and while the word promotion does not pass his Spanish lips, he is not stopping the fans from dreaming.
“I can understand because the fans are happy and I am pleased for them because they have supported us in the bad moments,” he said.
“But I have to keep my feet on the ground and I have to do the same with the players.
“If we are to do something in this league, we have to be careful and we have to improve every single day and work hard.”
Middlesbrough are set to be without Adam Clayton at Molineux.
The midfielder took a kick to the head in the win at Brighton and Karanka says he favours resting him, with Dean Whitehead set to start.
Lee Tomlin and Albert Adomah, who both came off in the second half at the Amex, have been declared fit.