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A DELIGHTED and relieved Aitor Karanka wants Middlesbrough to “win the cup and to be in the Premier League next season”.
The Boro boss’s team won a five-goal FA Cup thriller against League One Oxford United at the Riverside to earn a home quarter-final tie with Huddersfield or Manchester City.
Victory means Boro’s TeesWear derby with Sunderland, due to take place on March 11, will be rescheduled. Karanka, who said his team’s attitude against Oxford was far better than in the previous round against Accrington, isn’t worried about having to negotiate another tough fixture though. “I am really pleased. “I wanted to win the game, I want to be in the semi-final, I want to be in the final and I want to win the cup and I want to be in the Premier League next season,” he stated.
On the game, he added: “I am really pleased because I had said before the game Oxford were a really good team, they beat Newcastle in the last round and I said we had to be really careful.”
Karanka insists his players have to learn the lessons of Saturday’s game.
“Sometimes it is difficult to keep your concentration, especially when you are playing a League One team and leading 2-0, but we have to learn,” he pointed out.
“We conceded two goals and we are in the next round but it is a good lesson for us for the future.”
Huddersfield and Manchester City will meet in a replay at the Etihad after drawing 0-0 on Saturday at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The winners will travel to the Riverside on sixth round week- end and Karanka wants everyone connected with the club to savour the run, even if it means an extra game or two.
“The most important thing was to win the game, to be in the draw and to realise that three years ago I don’t think anybody could think that Middlesbrough could be in the Premier League and play in the quarter-final of the FA Cup.
“So we have to be really pleased, we have to know that we must keep going together and we have to try to keep the momentum.”
Karanka confirmed George Friend had not featured in the squad because he picked up a knock in training.
“He was ready to play but in the training session he felt something and George is the kind of player who needs to be 100%,” he explained.
“He wanted to play but I didn’t want to take that risk.”