Karanka promises to wield the axe ahead of Hammers clash

Local paper The Northern Echo claims Boro's head coach is ready to make changes to his side as they head south, aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

Karanka promises to wield the axe ahead of Hammers clash
Middlesbrough boss Karanka watches on as his side lose 2-1 to Tottenham | Photo: Getty / Dan Mullan

Middlesbrough had a decent start to the 2016/17 Premier League season, after an opening day draw with Stoke, they then collected four points away from home.

Aitor Karanka's men went into the international break unbeaten, but his side are yet to pick up a point since.

The former Real Madrid assistant is seemingly keen on halting the slide with personel changes before Middlesbrough travel to the London Stadium on Saturday to face West Ham United.

Why are changes needed?

In the previous four matches, Boro have conceded seven times which is unlike them as the Teesside outfit have been one of the best in the country when it comes to defensive stability.

After picking up an injury on his debut, Marten de Roon has returned into the Boro line up and Calum Chambers replaced Daniel Ayala in Middlesbrough's loss to Spurs at the weekend.

Aside from this, Karanka has changed his back four very few times. Even spanning into last season, the Spanish coach wanted to keep his back four consistent.

This poor run, however, may force Karanka's hand. He claimed he will be making changes to his side before facing off against West Ham.

Aitor Karanka was quoted as saying: "Now I can't say what I will change because I have one week to prepare and to analyse what happened against Tottenham but I will once again try to put the best 11 on the pitch."

Who could the changes be?

One change Middesbrough fans will be expecting Karanka to make is the introduction of Adama Traore for his Boro debut.

The winger who has represented Spain at youth level has impressed during his two cameo appearences at the Riverside Stadium. His lightening turn of pace excited the crowd and fueled an attempted Boro comeback.

Adama Traore has impressed with his pace and power after coming off then bench twice | Photo: Getty
Adama Traore has impressed with his pace and power after twice coming off then bench | Photo: Getty

Boro boss Karanka has previously said how Traore has "huge talent" however, he has said how he must learn more about the game.

Karanka plays a system where he needs his wingers to be defensively capable as well as being able to attack and the Middlesbrough head coach will be unwilling to throw Traore in at the deep end.

Jordan Rhodes, on the other hand, could be in with a shout for a start on Saturday. The questions in Karanka's post match press conference were about the influence Traore made, but the Spaniard was quick to praise Rhodes too.

"(Traore) changed the game today with Jordan (Rhodes)". The former Blackburn Rovers forward came on for Alvaro Negredo and saw a header saved by Hugo Lloris. Rhodes would have also been through one-on-one if Traore could've found a better pass following the winger's explosive run.

Rhodes has had to bide his time for a shot at the Premier League, both this season and in previous seasons, but it looks like Aitor Karanka could be about to hand him his chance.