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Aitor Karanka: Boro must beware crafty Carroll when West Ham come to town

Aitor Karanka has warned his Middlesbrough players not to dismiss Andy Carroll's wonder goal against Crystal Palace as a one-off.

The West Ham striker blasted home a acrobatic volley to help his side to a 3-0 Premier League victory over the Eagles last weekend, underlining his return to both fitness and form.

Renowned for his ability in the air, the former Newcastle frontman's stunner may have come as something of a surprise but, as he prepares Boro to welcome the Hammers to the Riverside Stadium, Karanka believes it would be a mistake to think Carroll could never repeat the feat.

The Spaniard replied: "He can because he's an amazing player.

"He's a player who always you have to be careful of - but if we are just looking at him, (Michail) Antonio can score or (Sofiane) Feghouli can score or (Manuel) Lanzini can score... or anyone.

"We have to think about ourselves, we have to try to play our style. We are playing at home, so we need to try to play our best and to try to stop him, to try to stop the balls to him.

"But behind him is Antonio, is Feghouli, are a lot of players, so it's not just him."

Boro go into the game having bounced back from successive Premier League defeats at Burnley and Manchester United over the festive period.

Hard-fought goalless draws with champions Leicester and Watford then arrived either side of an FA Cup third-round victory over Sky Bet Championship club Sheffield Wednesday.

They currently sit four points above the drop zone, but a lack of goals - they have scored only 17 in their 21 league fixtures to date - is hampering efforts to ease clear of trouble, hence their swoop for Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford in a deal costing an initial £6million this week.

Saturday's opponents have endured a topsy-turvy start to the campaign - they have won four and lost three of their last seven games in all competitions - which has not been helped in recent weeks by star man Dimitri Payet's request to leave.

However, Karanka admits their inconsistency has not proved too damaging.

He said: "Predictable or unpredictable, they have 25 points - we are predictable and we have 20."

Bamford is likely to be included among the Boro substitutes, while Daniel Ayala will miss out through suspension and Antonio Barragan and Gaston Ramirez through injury.

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