Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has gone back to his trusty London loan-well, with Spurs’ teenage full-back Milos Veljkovic becoming the fifth player currently on the Lilywhites’ or Chelsea’s books to head north east on a temporary basis.
Karanka’s side already look a bold price at 15/2 with bwin.com to top the second tier come May’s end, with 2/1 saying they’ll get promoted, having gone unbeaten since August bar the 14-13 penalty shoot-out loss at Liverpool in the Capital One Cup.
Boro are the form team in the division right now, ahead of Ipswich, Derby and leaders Norwich, but what should cheer the Riverside faithful even more is the gradual evolution of their 2014/15 team, which is being purpose-built for a huge heave at promotion.
Chelsea centre-half Kenneth Omeruo became a fixture in the first team in the second half of last season after being brought in by Karanka in January, so his presence in the starting line-up for eight of their 11 Championship matches so far is no surprise following a fine World Cup with Nigeria.
Having fired eight goals in 14 Championship starts with Derby last term, Blues forward Patrick Bamford is coming to prominence again, this time on Teeside, with two goals in seven games of which only one has been a Boro loss.
Spurs right-back Ryan Fredericks is another who has pounced on the chance of first-team experience, racking up full 90-minute shifts, plus extra-time at Anfield, in four of his side’s last five games, helping them claim seven Championship points along the way.
More permanent members of Boro’s squad, such as Grant Leadbitter, Albert Adomah, Daniel Ayala, Lee Tomlin and Kike are flourishing in the loanees’ presence, with the latter, signed from Murcia over the summer, already on five goals for his new club.
The attraction to the Riverside is clearly Karanka; Veljkovic hit the nail on the head when confirming his three-month switch to a Serbian Radio Station:
“Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka called me to talk about the possibility. He was previously an assistant to Jose Mourinho.”
It’s not what you know.