Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

3 Points Dominic Shaw

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

3 Points Dominic Shaw

Article excerpt

Byline: DOMINIC SHAW

'SURPRISE' selection - big games call for strongest team.

1 Aitor Karanka's go-to message is the need to take each game at a time, to focus on the next challenge.

After the ecstasy at Manchester United, he insisted the focus turned to Charlton the minute he woke up on the Thursday morning. And he rarely ventures away from discussing any match other than the one around the corner for Boro.

So with that in mind, his explanation of his decision to leave skipper Grant Leadbitter on the bench was a surprising one to say the least. Not just that but the decision, when Leadbitter was introduced, to replace Adam Clayton.

"It was tactical. It was a surprise I understand that, but we have Clayton and Grant with four yellow cards and today I expected a difficult and tough game and we don't have another replacement," he explained post-match.

"I decided to play with Clayton and Bruno (Zuculini) because he played against Charlton and did really, really well and for that reason I didn't want to take a risk.

But the duo both started against Rotherham on Tuesday night? Surely, if you were going to play them together for one game, it would have been against the side top of the Championship and in what Stewart Downing described as Boro's "biggest challenge".

The amnesty for yellow cards is November 30. Does that mean Leadbitter OR Clayton will partner Zuculini or Forshaw - if fit - or even Stephens in the next two games against QPR and Huddersfield? Aitor Karanka isn't afraid to make a big call, we saw that when he dropped Stewart Downing at Wolves, and Leadbitter starting in the middle may well not have changed the outcome of the game. In truth, the first half almost bypassed the midfield and if anything in the early stages it was Hull who lacked a holding presence as Fabbrini was allowed room to roam. …

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