Aitor Karanka has, today, been speaking at Boro's training ground. His second top flight press conference comes just under a week after his Middlesbrough side drew 1-1 with Stoke City.
Boro had the upper hand in the match and although they conceded late on, the head coach on Teesside believes the game showed his side were "ready and we (Middlesbrough) now know every game will be tough".
The man who scored Middlesbrough's goal, Alvaro Negredo, was spoken about at Rockliffe today. Karanka expressed his happiness to see the former Manchester City forward on the scoresheet, "His goal against Stoke was important... He's a top player and the only thing he needed was to recover his confidence."
Excited about the challenges that lie ahead
Karanka, who is coming up to his 4th year with the North East based club, was pleased to see his new additions bring experience to his side, 'I knew the players we brought here this season... they have experience and are confident.'
One new signing who particularly impressed the former Real Madrid assistant, was fellow Spaniard Antonio Barragan. Barragan had to fill in at centre back for Boro's Premier League opener as a result of Boro's injury worries, but Karanka was quick to praise the former Valencia full back: "I was pleased... He (Antonio Barragan) is going to be a very important player for us this season."
Another new signing that Karanka was impressed by was former Boro loanee, Gaston Ramirez. The Uruguayan performed well during his loan spell at the Riverside and Karanka was very glad to secure his services on a permanent basis.
'Gaston (Ramirez) was one of our first targets this summer.' Karanka went on to say that Gaston "is an amazing player, I hope he is going to be better every game".
Aitor Karanka also provided injury updates on some of his players. The injury suffered by Marten de Roon against Stoke on Saturday will keep him out until the international break. Karanka revealed, however, that: "Everybody is it to play except for Grant Leadbitter and Marten de Roon."
Aitor Karanka also confirmed that Daniel Ayala is fit and could feature against Sunderland on Sunday, but his fellow centre back Bernardo Espinosa is still not fully fit, despite playing 45 minutes for Boro's U23s midweek.
When asked about his team's opponents for this weekend, Karanka commented on being involved in his first league derby: "It is my first derby. I have heard how important this game is ... for us it is another three points."
He added, "It’s a tough game as derbies are different games, always. Moyes has been there for a few weeks, but the job he’s done in the past has been amazing."
Karanka also identified the key threat of Sunderland, "It's difficult to stop (Jermine Defoe)... he's their main striker so you mark him - yet he always scores. He is just one of the team but he's dangerous."