Boss Aitor Karanka has urged Middlesbrough to be positive in tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final tie at home to Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Manchester City.
Boro take a break from their dreadful Premier League run, which has seen them drop into the relegation zone, for tomorrow’s 12.15pm kick-off at the Riverside, with a Wembley semi-final up for grabs.
“The club has been in the semi-finals in just a few times in our history so it’s an amazing opportunity for us to go to Wembley,” said Karanka.
“The FA Cup is an important competition in this country and we have to be positive.
“To be in the Premier League and be playing Manchester City in the quarter-final is a positive thing.”
Boro have had three defenders ruled out of the big game.
Left-back George Friend misses out following a recurrence of a calf injury, while Danyi Ayala remains sidelined with the injury which forced him to be substituted in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Stoke.
Calum Chambers is also absent. Karanka said: “It’s three defenders,” Karanka said.
“But we have other options and we will do our best.”
Karanka famously managed Boro, then in the Championship, to a 2-0 FA Cup fourth round win away to Manchester City two seasons ago.
He recalled:“That was one of the best – at that time we were a surprise for everybody but we are not a surprise now.
“Everyone knows we are very organised, and they know it is going to be a tough test for them.
“I know Pep and I know his style, and they have 25 players with quality. But we have to show everybody why Man City is resting players and are taking this game seriously.”
Boro have endured a dismal run of league results, which has fears growing of an instant relegation.
Karanka feels that the team’s confidence can be rebuilt.
The Spaniard added: “The last two weeks have been really bad. But before those two weeks, when we played in our style we competed with every team.
“We have to recover – as a staff we are doing everything to show the players once again our confidence.
“As a coach, you can train completely different things, but if they players don’t have confidence in the end you will have nothing.
“The main thing is that everybody on board.
“You can feel the spirit of this team, so we must show them what they are able to do.
“(Tomorrow) we are at home, and the players must go to the pitch knowing that the coach, the crowd, the club all believe in them and knowing that we can do it.”