Middlesbrough V Man City at Riverside Stadium : Match Preview

10 March 2017
Middlesbrough V Man City - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Aitor Karanka: Middlesbrough are in an 'amazing' situation

Aitor Karanka insists Middlesbrough are in an "amazing" position as they attempt to book a trip to Wembley and stave off relegation from the Premier League.

Boro's head coach has spent the last few days preparing for Saturday's daunting FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester City having seen his promoted side slip into the relegation zone for the first time as a result of last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Stoke.

The Spaniard's most vociferous critics have called for his head, although he is confident he retains the backing of chairman Steve Gibson as he looks to accomplish his season's mission - to retain the club's top-flight status - while enjoying the bonus of an extended cup run.

Karanka said: "It can be amazing, but it can be amazing especially to realise how good a moment we are living. When someone tells me we are in an awful situation, for me, to be in the Premier League, to be in the quarter-finals, is an amazing situation.

"It's true that we are in the relegation positions, but it is the first time we have been in that position since the league started.

"For a team like us, we knew that was going to happen. We just have to try to win and show everybody that we are in a really good moment."

Boro welcome City to the Riverside Stadium having drawn 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium in November, but without a league win in 10 attempts since December 17, a run which has seen them score just three goals.

Indeed, their only victories since the turn of the year have come in the FA Cup against lower league Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington and Oxford, and while Karanka knows something has to change, he does not subscribe to the theory that he must rip up his masterplan and start all over again.

He said: "We just have to work on the pitch and work on their confidence because they have shown they can do it."

Karanka could be without three defenders on Saturday.

Calum Chambers is still sidelined with a foot problem, and will be joined on the sidelines by Daniel Ayala, who limped off with a hamstring injury last weekend.

Karanka has also admitted full-back George Friend is likely to miss out after aggravating a calf injury which ruled him out last month, while midfielder Adlene Guedioura is ineligible having played for Watford earlier in the competition.

Pep Guardiola would relish the chance to return to Wembley as Manchester City manager.

Guardiola won the Champions League at the venue as both a player and a coach with Barcelona.

Guardiola said: "It's so beautiful and that's why I'd like to be there. As a football player I won our first Champions League in Wembley, the old Wembley, and as a manager I won my second Champions League there, so of course Wembley is special for me, definitely.

"When I was a kid seeing English football playing in Wembley in all competitions, important games, the tradition there with the two managers going out, I loved that.

"It's a traditional stadium and of course we'll be pleased, and not just to come back and remember what we have done. Playing the semi-finals there will be nice and after, if we are able, to play the final."

Winger Raheem Sterling is likely to return after being rested for the midweek clash with Stoke.

Claudio Bravo would replace Willy Caballero in goal if Guardiola sticks to his usual domestic cup rotation policy.

Captain Vincent Kompany is awaiting a recall having returned to training following a knee injury in the past week but midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (knee) and striker Gabriel Jesus (foot) are still out.

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