Essential reading on this Friday's opponents
Nickname: The Boro
Manager: Aitor Karanka
Ground: Riverside Stadium
Fastest road route from Carrow Road: 227 miles (4 hours 10 minutes)
Middlesbrough’s Sky Bet Championship promotion charge has been built on the meanest defence in the division.
Bakary Sako’s goal for Wolves at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday was just the 33rd Aitor Karanka’s men have conceded in 43 league matches this season.
City will be encouraged by the fact that Boro have lost four of their last five matches away from home turf, however. They are currently a point behind the Canaries in fourth place in the table.
In 2009, their 11-year stay in the Premier League was ended by relegation.
They have triumphed in the second tier of English football by winning the title four times, while they also boast a League Cup trophy (2004).
Their current squad contains one former Norwich City player in Daniel Ayala (2011-14), who made ten appearances during his spell at Carrow Road.
A Champions League winner as a player, Aitor Karanka assumed his first senior managerial post when he took over as Middlesbrough boss in November 2013.
The Spaniard was previously assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, where he triumphed in Europe’s elite club competition as a central defender.
Karanka replaced Tony Mowbray in the hotseat on Teeside and guided them to a 12th-place finish by the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
Born in Vitoria, he played for Athletic Bilbao before transferring to the Bernabeu in 1997, where he would go on to make 93 appearances.
He returned to Bilbao before wrapping up his career with Colorado Rapids in MLS. The 41-year-old earned a solitary cap for Spain’s national team.
Just before he took the job at Middlesbrough, Mourinho was glowing in his praise of Karanka, saying: “I think whatever club gets him, in England or in another country, will be a lucky club.”
Goalkeepers: Connor Ripley, Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Tomas Mejias.
Defenders: Abella Damia, George Friend, Daniel Ayala, Ben Gibson, James Husband, Adam Reach, Kenneth Omeruo, Rhys Williams, Tomas Kalas, Andre Bennett, David Atkinson, Mark Kitching, Jonathan Woodgate, Adam Jackson.
Midfielders: Ryan Fredericks, Grant Leadbitter (c), Adam Clayton, Dean Whitehead, Albert Adomah, Bryn Morris, Ryan Brobbel, Adam Forshaw.
Forwards: Enrique Garcia, Lee Tomlin, Luke Williams, Jelle Vossen, Patrick Bamford, Emilio Nsue, Bradley Fewster, Yanic Wildschut.
Under-21s vs Everton, Monday April 20, 7pm
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