Middlesbrough: Confidence key to Kike form - Aitor Karanka

Spanish striker Kike has scored three goals in three games for Boro this season.

Middlesbrough striker Kike's impressive start to the new season is down to experience and confidence, says head coach Aitor Karanka.

The Spaniard, 25, has scored three goals for Boro so far, netting twice at home to Bolton and at Derby on Tuesday.

He has new competition for places at Boro after forwards Cristhian Stuani and David Nugent signed this summer.

"Kike is more confident, he knows the league now and the players better," Karanka told BBC Tees.

"He also speaks a bit of English, it's easier for him to communicate with the players, but it's not about Stuani or Nugent arriving.

David Nugent
David Nugent was one of two new forwards added to the Boro squad this summer.

"Kike started to score goals when we played Barnsley [in a pre-season friendly] and that's before those strikers were here."

Boro's unbeaten start to the season continued with the draw against the Rams, but Johnny Russell's late equaliser denied them all three points in the battle of two promotion hopefuls.

"I told them at half-time it was going to be a difficult second half," Karanka said.

"Derby needed to win, they would put everything on the pitch and we should be intelligent.

"We were working well without the ball, but with the ball we couldn't play in our usual style.

"They kept the ball and pass the ball, so when we recovered the ball we were tired."