Everton v Middlesbrough: Karanka backs Boro to keep Lukaku quiet

Romelu Lukaku heads home the second goal of his hat-trick against Sunderland
Romelu Lukaku heads home the second goal of his hat-trick against Sunderland
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Middlesbrough are perfectly prepared to nullify the considerable threat of striker Romelu Lukaku, according boss Aitor Karanka.

The Belgian frontman netted a match-winning hat-trick in Monday’s 3-0 demolition of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

But while Karanka admits he rates the 23-year-old highly, he feels that dealing with countryman Christian Benteke, for Crystal Palace, last week was just the tonic for his Boro backline.

“We had a really good example last week - Benteke and Lukaku are very similar players,” said Karanka ahead of tonight’s 5.30pm kick off at Goodison Park.

“We have the experience of last week but we also have the experience of last season when he played against us in the cup.

“We know him. It is not always about the player who is marking him, it is about everybody.

“It is difficult to say. You have to try to stop him but it is difficult, he is strong. “We have to compete in the area.”

He explained that Lukaku will not be the only threat the Toffees pose, saying: “Lukaku, (Gerard) Deulofeu, (Ross) Barkley. They are all good players.

“It is a game we have to be at 150% to compete.”

The gaffer admits that after last weekend’s Riverside defeat he gave his side a tough week in training.

Although he pointed out that it is important not to get too carried away, win, draw or loss.

“Yeah, it was a hard week like always,” he said.

“I think it is the only way to prepare.

“After our game against Sunderland and after our game with Fulham we said we shouldn’t get carried away and it is the same after a defeat.”

Concentration is key tonight for Karanka.

He continued: “We are going to win games, we are going to lose games. We will more games than we did last season because we are in the Premier League.

“Last season in the Championship we were better than most teams.

“Even when we didn’t play well and we were not 100% concentrated we won the game.

“In the Premier League we are playing against teams with a lot of quality so we need to have concentration.

“We have to concentrate for 95 minutes.”

One player who is expected to play a prominent role against Ronald Koeman’s men is Adam Clayton.

“Adam is a player who in my first season played against us for Huddersfield. After five minutes, I said ‘I want this player for the following season’,” he said. “He has been key for us in the last two seasons. He is a very good player in the Championship.

“We have competition now but he has improved.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Rhodes (knee) and Cristhian Stuani (groin) are both rated as doubtful.