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Karanka with special praise for Chelsea loanees Bamford, Kalas

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With two games left in their regular season, Middlesbrough are firmly in contention for an automatic promotion spot to the Premier League.  At worst, they will be playing in the promotion playoffs, but as Patrick Bamford experienced with Derby County last year, that can easily lead to heartbreak and sadness like a 90th minute winner from QPR's Bobby Zamora.

In Boro's way stand Watford (just one point ahead) and AFC Bournemouth (ahead on goal difference), but Aitor Karanka's men do have the advantage of an easier schedule, having to face only lowly Fulham (18th) and Brighton (20th) in their final two games.  Of course, craziness happens with alarming regularity in the Championship, which means even greater responsibility for Championship Player of the Year Bamford.

"He wasn't really a kid when he came here because he is 21 and was already a good player, but he has taken his opportunity and has improved every single day."

"At the beginning, maybe he played more for himself. But now he is fighting with the team and now he is a different player. He knows how much he needs to work every single game, and he is doing that. He is a quality player."

Karanka's clearly quite happy with the reinforcements he's received over the year from his former boss Jose Mourinho.  And that includes a player who's no longer actually eligible to play for Boro, but has asked to stay on and train with the team instead of returning to Chelsea.

"I think the season has been perfect for [Bamford], and the same is true for Tomas Kalas. He came here from Germany, where he had not played a game. But here he played a lot of matches and improved a lot."

Kalas played in every single game for which he was eligible at Boro, and after the frustrations of the previous half season, it's fantastic that he was able to make some progress this year.

"It is very frustrating that my loan runs out now so I will be missing the last few important games but I knew that date from the beginning. But [...] I hope it can be agreed with Chelsea that I can stay here and train with the guys and still be part of the team until the end of the season so we can all stick together as a group. I have really enjoyed my time at Boro and I am proud I played my part in getting this far and now I want to see it through to the end."

In fact, Kalas, just like Bamford, is open to spending next season up on the Teesside, which he believes will be a season in the Premier League.

"I have really enjoyed my time here I really want to come back. I'm glad I came here and I want to say thank-you to the coach and staff and players and to the fans also an hopefully I will be back next season."

"I'm still a player of Chelsea but everyone knows it is always difficult to get into the team there and when you don't see a big chance to play first team games then it is better for a young player to be at a club where they can play and where they can improve."

"So yes, I want to be here. I know in football anything can happen but for me, I am part of this team and I want to come back and finish it off."

"Yes, I think we are on the way to the Premier League. Hopefully we will get automatic promotion and won't have to go to the play-offs. The next two games are really important and it is still not in our hands we may still need someone to drop a point and hopefully we win both our games and get promotion."

Good luck, Boro!