Karanka backs midfielders Leadbitter and Forshaw ahead of Manchester City clash

Karanka backs midfielders Leadbitter and Forshaw ahead of Manchester City clash

The Middlesbrough manager claims his captain is ready to return against the league leaders and says Forshaw would be deserving of an England cap

Sam France

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka has given the green light for midfielder and captain Grant Leadbitter to return to the starting eleven ahead of his side's visit to league leaders Manchester City this weekend.

Leadbitter made his first appearance of the season in the 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth last weekend, and has since played the full 90 in an under-23 fixture against Newcastle United.

Leadbitter ready to play ahead of schedule

And, despite his lack of first-team minutes in recent months, Karanka says that he would have no worries about allowing his captain to start against the side who defeated Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek.

"He's desperate to play," Karanka told the Gazette. "He's ready. Maybe other players would need more games but looking at his face, you don't need to ask him anything".

The Spaniard was keen to praise the impact Leadbitter had had on his return against the Cherries, saying that "when he was on the pitch he was organising everything, he is a character on the pitch".

Forshaw backed to make international impact

In his absence, midfielder Adam Forshaw has impressed to the extent that recent rumours have linked him with a first England cap. 

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate was present for the game against Bournemouth, and Karanka says that he would back the former Everton man to take his chance on the biggest stage.

He claimed that while some may be surprised at the news, he knows Forshaw's quality and isn't surprised to hear him linked with an international call-up.

“If Gareth called him he wouldn’t be making a mistake for sure, because he is taking an amazing player.

“Everyone is now seeing how good Adam is and he would be taking an amazing professional and an amazing person."

Middlesbrough are perhaps likely to field a three-man midfield as they did in their recent draw at Arsenal, meaning Leadbitter could feature alongside two of Forshaw, Adam Clayton and Marten de Roon.