Sunderland striker Graham not yet ready for second Boro debut

Boro boss Aitor Karanka
Boro boss Aitor Karanka
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ON-LOAN Sunderland striker Danny Graham must wait for his second Middlesbrough debut.

The highlight of Boro’s transfer window was the acquisition of former striker Graham, who penned a loan deal until the end of the season.

The 28-year-old scored just once in 2013, for Hull, and his latest barren run in front of goal stretches to seven matches.

Boro boss Aitor Karanka is enthusiastic about the signing, but he will not start Graham against Gary Bowyer’s eighth-placed Rovers at the Riverside tomorrow because “he needs more time”.

He said: “He wasn’t playing and for this he needs to train, and he is training very well.

“He isn’t fit to play 90 minutes.

“He’s a player who has improved our squad and if he’s confident he will score a lot of goals.”

Karanka has got his prime ingredient to a winning team, now he wants the results.

The Riverside chief has long since spoken of his intention to have a concise, quality squad to train with and outgoings last month have enabled that to become a reality.

After a positive week on the Rockliffe Park training pitches, Boro aim to right the wrongs of recent weeks and transfer training exercises to the league.

The Spaniard said: “It’s an important match for us.

“The most important thing is for us to recover our confidence, our style and we have worked very well this week.

“We’ve had all week to work with the squad, a squad I wanted.

“We’ve had 20 players, with a few goalkeepers, and I’m excited about the game.”

Blackburn visit Teesside just five points shy of a play-off place, but a home win could move Boro to within six points of the top six.

Karanka knows the difficulty his side will face, saying of Blackburn: “They are a good team, they play well and defend well.

“I expect a difficult game for us if we don’t play like we know we can.

“It will be the perfect game to win with a lot of goals but I can’t promise that.

“But I can promise work and I hope the players will be very good to say thank you to the supporters.”

Boro defender Daniel Ayala will be sidelined for a month with an ankle injury, so on-loan Chelsea man Kenneth Omeruo could slot into central defence.