Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka praises Ipswich Town nuisance David Nugent

Middlesbrough players celebrate with David Nugent after he had scored their second goal in the Ipswi

Middlesbrough players celebrate with David Nugent after he had scored their second goal in the Ipswich Town v Middlesbrough (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 04 December 2015. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has hailed Ipswich Town nemesis David Nugent, as the striker attempts to increase his remarkable scoring record against the Blues tomorrow.

The 30-year-old former Preston, Portsmouth and Leicester hitman has plundered 15 goals in his last 14 games against the Blues and netted in the Teessiders’ 2-0 win at Portman Road in December.

The England international is top of Middlesbrough’s goalscoring and assist charts this season, but his impact has been overshadowed in recent weeks by £9m signing Jordan Rhodes, who, of course, was the one that got away at Town – Roy Keane selling the striker to then League One Huddersfield Town for a six-figure fee.

Rhodes has never looked back since leaving Suffolk, being a prolific marksman for the Terriers and Blackburn, and has scored five in five for his new side.

However Karanka believes that while Rhodes is taking all the glory, the influence of Nugent cannot be underestimated.

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“I am really pleased with David,” said Karanka.

“I know all the lights have been on Jordan Rhodes, but we are in our position because of players like David.

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“He has been and will be an important character in the dressing room, whether he is playing or not, and his attitude on the training ground is always amazing.”

Karanka will be without captain George Friend (hamstring) tomorrow, while Gaston Ramirez, who limped off against Burnley on Tuesday, is unlikely to be risked.

Despite that, Karanka has plenty of strength in depth but knows Town won’t be a soft touch.

“I expect a difficult game. Ipswich are a good team and, last season, they were playing in the play-offs,” said the Spanish boss.

“This season, they have lost a few games, but they have a really experienced manager and it will be a tough game.”

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