Belfast Telegraph

Karanka hails Middlesbrough recruitment chief Orta over summer deals

Aitor Karanka has hailed the influence of recruitment chief Victor Orta on Middlesbrough's fortunes and thinks he was "crazy" to do the job himself.

Orta, who previously worked behind the scenes in his native Spain with Elche and Sevilla, has struck up a close bond with the manager in his year on Teesside.

In that time the club have won promotion to the Premier League and taken 15 points from their first 14 games back in the top flight.

Over the summer seasoned Spanish internationals Alvaro Negredo and Victor Valdes were drafted in, while deals for Gaston Ramirez and Adama Traore also look good business.

Yet Karanka may well see the signing of Orta as his best piece of business yet, with the appointment freeing him up to focus on the day to day job of management.

"To start with, it was a surprise he was available to sign," said the former Real Madrid assistant.

"His reputation in Spain is big, he wasn't the sporting director at Sevilla but his job there was amazing, and he did a great job at Elche also.

"So when the club told me he was available to sign, I didn't have any doubts.

"I think it's a position that you should have a lot of confidence in.

Karanka has five more games to prepare for between now and the new year, starting with Sunday's trip to Southampton, but Orta is already running the rule over January targets.

"I can focus on the games and I know when I have our first meeting in one week or two weeks he will bring me (recommendations) of the best players possible," said the manager.

"When you have a good relationship and you know how good he is at his job, I can go home relaxed knowing we will get the best players in the following market.

"We're confident that we have each other, our relationship is amazing, and if I remember now my first two years here when I had to do everything - I was crazy."

Boro are hoping for good news on the fitness front, with doubts over key men Negredo and Ramirez.

The pair have been responsible for four of the team's last six goals but sustained minor hamstring and foot problems in last week's 1-0 win over Hull.

They have not trained with the squad during the week but will be given the chance to prove their fitness, particularly with back-up striker Jordan Rhodes also nursing a groin complaint.

Cristhian Stuani is on standby to fill in up front if Negredo is unfit.

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