Aitor Karanka back in Boro dug-out for Hull clash

Aitor Karanka will be back in the Middlesbrough dug-out for Friday night’s vital Sky Bet Championship clash with Hull after a turbulent weekend on Teesside.

The club’s Spanish head coach looked on from afar as Boro went down 2-0 at Charlton last Sunday after assistant Steve Agnew was put in temporary charge of the team following a training round bust-up, although he was restored to his position on Monday evening as a result of chairman Steve Gibson’s diplomatic intervention.

Skipper Grant Leadbitter returned from a hamstring problem at The Valley, while there were places in the starting line-up for summer signing Stewart Downing – for the first time in three games – and B£9million January arrival Jordan Rhodes.

However, central defender Daniel Ayala continues his battle to recover from a troublesome hamstring injury and will miss out once again.

Hull defender Curtis Davies will hope to celebrate signing a two-year contract extension by rekindling the club’s promotion drive after seeing the Tigers go four league games without a win, culminating in Tuesday night’s 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest.

Manager Steve Bruce could be tempted to hand Sone Aluko, who scored his side’s equaliser after coming off the bench in midweek, just a sixth league start of the campaign and a first since December 5.

Bruce could have Jake Livermore back at his disposal following his return to training after a knee injury, but is not expecting to be able to call upon fellow midfielder David Meyler.

The Republic of Ireland international is likely to miss out through illness and join Nick Powell (hamstring) and Shaun Maloney (ankle) on the sidelines.

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