Former Sunderland midfielder Leadbitter fired up for Middlesbrough’s promotion run-in

Grant Leadbitter

Grant Leadbitter

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MIDDLESBROUGH’S determined players will embrace the vital final four weeks of the Championship season, writes CHRIS BELL.

Boro will return to action against Wigan on Good Friday on the back of near enough a fortnight’s training due to the current international break.

We have two games over the Easter period which will be tough, but we’re confident

Grant Leadbitter

A point and two places off leaders Bournemouth, Aitor Karanka’s side are committed to fulfilling their aspirations of promotion to the Premier League. “There’s seven games to go and we’ll win as many as we can – that’s the challenge,” former Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter told the Echo.

“We have two games over the Easter period which will be tough, but we’re confident.

“We have to perform better than what we did against Bournemouth, though.”

And indeed they do. A sub-par performance display against the Cherries in a 3-0 away defeat last weekend denied Boro the opportunity to put three points between themselves and their nearest promotion rivals, Watford.

The message that is reverberating around the Rockliffe Park training fields is that the Teessiders must bounce back from that crushing defeat immediately.

There can be no let-ups now, Leadbitter knows. When we come back, I’m sure we’ll be flying,” he said. “There’s going to be a few games in there. Seven games in four weeks.

“We have a group of people who want to do well. We have a lot of hungry players.”

The challenge of seven games in four weeks does not instil fear into the side, whose squad depth should negate the fatigue. The vice captain added: “It’s going to be good. It’s going to be intense and points to be get. We’ve got to get them points.”

Boss Aitor Karanka is looking forward to working with Fulham centre-back Fernando Amorebieta (pictured, inset) again after bringing him in on loan for the rest of the season.

The deal has seen Boro full-back James Husband go the other way until May.

Amorebieta, a Venezuelan international, is known to Karanka having developed his career at the head coach’s first club, Athletic Bilbao.

Karanka said: “He’s a very good lad. I’ve known him for 12 or 13 years now. He played with me in Bilbao – we were team-mates – and his career has been brilliant.

“This season has been difficult for him because he got injured at the Riverside for Fulham and after that it took time for him to play again, but he is a very good player.

“The main thing that he is going to bring is his experience. He has made 200 appearances in the Primera League and two years ago he was playing in a Europa League final, so he is very experienced. He knows how difficult it will be for him to play because our players are doing well.”