Chelsea loanee relegated to bench as Middlesbrough confirm number one

Jamal Blackman will not be starting for Middlesbrough during his loan spell, with Dimi Konstantopoulos confirmed as Boro’s number one.

The athletic ‘keeper has been a mainstay in the Blues academy teams for a number of years, progressing to the level of first-team squad member under head coach Jose Mourinho.

The 20-year old featured 12 times for the Chelsea Under-21’s last season, conceding just 13 goals and keeping three clean sheets as the Blues won the Under-21 Premier League. Impressive displays in non-competitive fixtures have shown his quality, but with Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech fighting for one spot - the chances of Blackman featuring even once this season are next to none.

However, a loan move away would have been completed in the hopes of finding consistent first-team football, but Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has confirmed that Blackman will not be his number one, with Dimi Konstantopoulos set to predominately feature between the posts.

Konstantopoulos made his first start of the season in Boro’s 2-1 won over Huddersfield Town, having replaced previous number one Tomas Mejias - who suffered a long-term back injury in training last week - and Karanka confirmed after the game that the 35-year old Greek would be his first-team started, even if Mejias returns from injury.

Karanka told Gazette Live: “I told Dimi on Wednesday that he would be playing.

“Tomas has had his chance and now Dimi will stay in the team if he plays well.

“I have to choose the best XI and now I think Dimi is better for us than Tomas.

I think Dimi is the keeper who now transmits more confidence and the players on the pitch feel more confident with him.

“I have no doubt that Tomas is a very good goalkeeper, he showed last season that he can play here (in England) but he’s had his chance and he has to work again to win another chance.

“If Dimi is playing well and the team is playing well and winning games then he is the first person and Tomas will understand my decision.

Blackman featured on the bench for the tie at Huddersfield, although, with first-team football out of the question - and his place on the bench under threat when Mejias returns - the youngster should look further afield to guarantee playing opportunities.

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