Middlesbrough boss: My players have to do this one thing

Aitor Karanka is ready to change his first-team squad, with a number of players struggling to fulfil one key role in his team.

Boro struggled on Tuesday night, stalling to a 1-1 draw with winless Blackpool at the Riverside Stadium.

In the aftermath of the game, the former Real Madrid coach accused some players of working for themselves and not for the good of the team, claiming that ‘we played in a way that we didn’t like’.

Due to a number of injuries and suspensions, Boro were unable to field a strong first-team line-up, but Karanka is hoping that the returns of Dean Whitehead and Albert Adomah, as well as Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton - who were left injured during the Blackpool game - will return a sense of urgency to his side.

Hosting a rejuvenated Fulham on Saturday, with the West London club heading into the game on the back of a 4-0 victory over Bolton, Karanka has revealed to Gazette Live how he wants his players to perform - with team ethic being the most important trait to consider.

"The problem is when we don’t play as a team," the Spaniard said.

"I don’t want to say all of them because some players, their attitude was good, but other players played for themselves and I don’t like players playing for themselves.

"I want players to play for the team. I think it is going to be good for me to choose the right players.”

Boro have put in a number of strong performances this season, including the eventual penalty loss to Liverpool in the League Cup, but the turgid draw with Blackpool prevented the Teesiders from cementing themselves as play-off contenders. The game against Fulham promises to be a tough tie, but Karanka is urging his players to not drop valuable points at home.

He added: "It’s a very important game because we have to be strong at home.

"We have lost a lot of points and I don’t like to lose points here in front of our crowd.

"We have to win the game.

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