Aitor Karanka: We have done nothing yet

The key has been to keep working and keep believing.

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka has urged his players to kick on again as Blues aim to keep climbing the Sky Bet Championship table.

The team's only loss in four was to league leaders Norwich City last week, a run that has included wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers in successive weekends. 

Next up is a trip to in-form Barnsley which is the second visit to Yorkshire of the week after Blues picked up a point away at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night.

Speaking to the media from the Trillion Trophy Training Centre, Karanka looked back on the Terriers clash and explained how this sets Blues up for the match at Oakwell on Saturday.

The draw at the John Smith's Stadium meant his men have taken four points off a side closeby in the standings and the Head Coach said: “It was a good point, and we are in a much better position than we were ten days ago. We have a gap between us and the relegation zone and other teams have not gone higher in the table.

"If we hadn’t won those games, we would have been in a difficult position. The situation is better, but we have done nothing yet. We know we have to keep winning the games. We have to keep winning as many games as possible and the way to do this is to continue playing as we have been and even better.

“We have added four points [from our last two games] and those points are really deserved.

“The key has been to keep working and keep believing."

Karanka also assessed a Barnsley side who are without defeat in eight matches and knocking on the door of the play-offs, outlining his thoughts on their impressive run.

The Boss told the press: “I think it is confidence and when everything is going in your favour. They are adding points and I saw yesterday’s game and QPR had chances but did not score. It is going to be difficult because of the confidence that they have from winning games. They are aggressive and committed out of possession."

Saturday's game is the continuation of a packed fixture calendar that has taking its toll on teams throughout the pyramid and Karanka, whilst delighted with the efforts of the whole squad, saved some extra praise for Ivan Sanchez.

Talking about the Spanish winger who is playing through an injury, Karanka said: “The spirit of Ivan [Sanchez] is the spirit of the team. They know they have to work with and without the ball in the same way. Everybody knows that every single game is really demanding, and Ivan is doing a big effort because he is playing with a lot of pain in his groin. Ivan knows that everybody in his situation would be doing the same in this team.”

And it is that level of determination to be available and perform that is giving the Gaffer welcome headaches when it comes to selecting his starting XI, particularly in defence after Marc Roberts' performance against Huddersfield.

Talking via Zoom, Karanka said: “I would like to have that problem with every single position on the pitch. I prefer coming into the office with that problem on my table. I prefer to have different options in each position. If you have players who know they are always going to play it is not good.

“Every single player who is not playing is training really well. These players are a really good example.”

The press conference also provided an update on Sam Cosgrove's recovery, with Karanka taking the opportunity to credit the striker for his attitude since arriving from Aberdeen in the January transfer window.

The 47-year-old said: “Sam will be training with us soon and I will see if he is ready to come with us to the games.

“He was training well, and it is difficult for him, arriving from Scotland, training with new teammates and then he got injured. His character is good, he has always been positive and with his attitude, I hope he will be with us soon.”