'Middlesbrough are back', says Karanka after opening-day draw

Following his side's 1-1 draw with Stoke City, Aitor Karanka has reflected on his first match as a Premier League manager.

'Middlesbrough are back', says Karanka after opening-day draw
Karanka patrols the touchline in his first Premier League match | Photo: Getty Images

Three months after securing their place in England's top flight, Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has seen his side's first game of the 2016/17 season.

After taking the lead in the first half through new signing Alvaro Negredo, Boro were pegged back in the 67th minute through Xheridan Shaqiri's free-kick as they shared the spoils at home to Stoke City.

Happy with a point.

Aitor Karanka was quick to praise his players who had secured Middlesbrough's win on return. "We can't forget that three months ago, we were in the Championship"

"It was a day to enjoy, Middlesbrough are back in the Premier League and this was our first steps," the Spaniard added. "We deserve to be here, the fans deserve to be here."

When asked about the outcome, Karanka said "I can't be disappointed, especially with our performance and with the attitude of the team." He went on to say: "We had six or seven players who were playing their first game in the Premier League, so it's been good for me to know that we're ready once again"

Alvaro Negredo celebreates his first Premier League goal since 2013 | Photo: Getty Images
Alvaro Negredo celebreates his first Premier League goal since 2013 | Photo: Getty Images

"Today, we played against Stoke and their four players up front - Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Bojan and Diouf. They are all quality and with one free-kick they scored," said Karanka, commenting on opponents Stoke City. "We have to take our chances but also enjoy this."

Spaniard confirms injury to Marten de Roon.

Just 19 minutes into his debut, Dutchman Marten de Roon was leaving the pitch with an injury.

Karanka confirmed that his £12 million man will spend some time on the sidelines. "I think it's a muscle injury and sometimes it's three weeks, sometimes four weeks, sometimes two. I need to keep calm with him. It was his first game, he was wanting to show everybody he was ready to play."

"I hope he's with us as soon as possible, but without him when Adam Forshaw came onto the pitch, we played in the same way." He added.

Forshaw will be expected to start against Sunderland for Boro's first away game in the Premier League since 2009, with de Roon's suspected hamstring injury and with club captain Grant Leadbitter still on the mend.