CHRIS HUGHTON says his side need to reduce the number of goals conceded from set pieces in wake of Brighton & Hove Albion’s 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough.
Two of Boro's goals came from corners and Hughton admits it is a cause for concern.
He said, “They were poor goals for us to concede. The first goal was crucial coming so early on, in what was such an important game for us.
“Here at the Amex in general we have been quite good and we wanted to build into the game. We knew that Middlesbrough are a team that can be patient and can hit you on the counter, but that first goal gave them the lift that they needed and raised their supporters' levels.
“The second goal came at an important time, just before half-time. We conceded from a set-play, which we have done in the last couple of games, which is tough.
“It’s certainly a big worry and one thing that we need to eradicate. What we’re up against this season are very good deliveries. That’s what happens when you play against these teams, they’ve got players that can put the ball generally where they want to put it.
“But it’s very difficult to be too harsh on the players and I think the response from the supporters has been excellent.”
Uwe Huenemeier was added to the growing injury list after being replaced by Connor Goldson midway through the second half, and the manager provided an update on those players currently out of action.
“The closest to returning is Sam Baldock and perhaps Kazenga LuaLua after that.
“With Gaetan [Bong] we are probably looking at early February, Liam [Rosenior] late February and of course Solly [March] will miss the rest of the season.”
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AITOR KARANKA highlighted the improvements his side have made in recent weeks and how Middlesbrough’s 3-0 win at Brighton summed up the nature of the Championship.
The Teessiders moved two points clear at the summit with an emphatic win at the Amex, but the Spaniard is still refusing to get carried away.
He told www.mfc.co.uk, “It has been really difficult to get to this point and we have to keep going. This was a really good performance.
“After our defeat against Hull City (in early November) maybe people had doubts, but I said at the time and I say now, it is impossible to go through the season without losing a game. Today was a big step, but the season ends in May.
“Saturday was a really good example of how this league is. I think the changes I made today from Tuesday was the key. I felt we were better, fitter and sharper than them, they looked tired at times.
“When we scored the first goal I was expecting us to score the second. We did and then I felt we needed another, but we invited pressure. They (Brighton) hadn’t gone on that unbeaten run for no reason and it was important to get another."
The Boro boss is also urging his players to stay on their toes and says everyone in his squad will have an opportunity to impress.
“Everyone knows how easy it is to leave the team and how difficult it is to get back in it.
“We don’t have a lot of players, everybody knows they have to be ready and they will get their chance.”
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