Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka praised the performance of Stewart Downing following the Boro winger’s stunning strike against Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup.
Downing, who has been linked with a move away from the Riverside this month, scored the only goal of the game against the League Two side as Boro progressed to the fifth round of the competition.
After the match Karanka dismissed suggestions that Downing, 31, wanted to leave, insisting that the former England international remains a key player with “Premier League” experience.
"Downing is a player you have to consider"
“He scored an amazing goal and he deserved it,” said the Boro boss
“I told him at half-time he’d been one of the best on the pitch, and the goal made it even better.”
When asked if Downing would come into the manager’s thoughts ahead of Boro’s league game against West Brom on Tuesday, Karanka replied: “Always”, adding “he is a player you have to consider.”
Karanka was pleased with his team’s overall performance and paid tribute to Stanley, who kept Boro at bay for 70 minutes.
“Sometimes these kinds of games can be hard, because you expect them to be easier but no game is easy,” said Karanka
“The most important thing was to get through to the next round. They were really organised and were fighting until the end. They were a good example for us.”
Gestede and Bamford needed game time
Karanka handed first starts to new signings Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede, with latter playing the full 90 minutes.
“It was good for both of them because it was important for them to add minutes,” Karanka explained.
The Spaniard went on to say, “Paddy for example showed that he is a really good player but he needs games because the Patrick Bamford of two years ago would have score two or three goals today."
“He knows how much I trust him and he has been with us and improving for two or three weeks now, so I am very pleased with both of them,” added Karanka.
No news on Jese
Karanka remained tight-lipped about the potential signing of Jese Rodriguez and when asked about the PSG winger the Boro boss answered: "I don't know anything and I don't want to know anything”.
Following his comments after the West Ham game, Karanka responded by saying he was happy with the atmosphere at the Riverside, stating: “I can’t say anything more about the crowd and nobody is going to put myself against my crowd.”
Karanka is unsure whether full back George Friend will be available for Tuesday’s game against West Brom after the defender was forced off with a calf injury in the first half.