Aitor Karanka looks ahead to game against 'direct opponents' Watford

It has been almost a month since Middlesbrough's last Premier League win and head coach Aitor Karanka is aware that his side need to get back on track.

Must win Watford?

Karanka will be hoping to follow up his side's FA Cup victory over Sheffield Wednesday with a win at Vicarage Road against the Hornets.

Walter Mazzarri's Watford took three points away from their trip to Teesside in October, but Karanka says that this game is not about revenge.

"No... In the first half we played really well. I couldn’t say anything about the players because they did everything (to win the match)," he said in his pre-match press conference.

Boro's opponents also won their Cup game against lower league opposition as Burton Albion fell to a 2-0 defeat.

Watford's league form, however, has left much to be desired and has seen them fall down the table.

When asked if the Hornets were being dragged into a relegation battle, Karanka was keen to talk about his team, saying "I want to think and I am always thinking about ourselves. Winning the games we will reach a better position in the table."

Karanka quizzed on transfer activity at Boro

Middlesbrough have brought in Rudy Gestede from Aston Villa so far this window, but have also seen players leave the club.

The most notable departure being David Nugent leaving Middlesbrough for Derby County for £2 million.

David Nugent scored eight goals during his 18 months spell on Teesside | Photo: GettyImages/Rich Linley - CameraSport
David Nugent scored eight goals during his 18 months spell on Teesside | Photo: GettyImages/Rich Linley

Nugent netted valuable goals for Boro in their promotion winning season, but hasn't been able to make the step up to the Premier League.

Karanka, however, was gushing with his praise for the striker signed just 18 months ago from Leicester City. The Spaniard called Nugent "the kind of player who is amazing for a manager" and wished him well at the iPro Stadium.

Middlesbrough's head coach was also asked about another name linked with leaving Teesside, Stewart Downing.

The winger who started his career at the Riverside hasn't performed to the standards which he set when he previously played in England's top flight and has struggled for game time this season.

Karanka said he would not stop Downing if he wanted to leave the side. "If Stewart wants to leave and everybody is happy, yes of course."

As far as possible incomings, the former Real Madrid assistant coach would not give anything away.

He mentioned the names of Robert Snodgrass, Gerard Deulofeu and Bojan - all of whom have been linked to moves to Teesside - he did not give an update on whether or not a deal for any player is close.

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