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Aitor Karanka: I am responsible

We have to keep believing.

BCFC

Aitor Karanka has said it is down to him to ensure that Blues are ready for the business end of the season.

Blues have 11 matches remaining in the Sky Bet Championship, with the first of these being against Bristol City on Saturday at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

This game comes on the back of a clear midweek for Karanka’s men after being narrowly beaten by Barnsley last weekend.

And the Head Coach says that the onus is on him to help Blues up the table.

Speaking to the media via Zoom from the Trillion Trophy Training Centre, Karanka explained: “If the players are not doing their best then it is my fault as I am responsible.

“I am trying everything for them to do their best, if they are not doing this then it is my fault. I need to keep improving and learning. If we are in this situation and not winning, then it is because of me.

"I have that winning mentality because if I thought we didn’t have the right players or quality it is not a winning mentality. To have this you have to want to improve.”

The defeat in South Yorkshire was the first in three outings, but Karanka was keen to address that this has not dented any confidence within the group.

He said: “The mood has been normal. Initially, everyone was frustrated but we knew we had a whole week to work together here, to try to improve and to rest because we had a few really demanding weeks. We have to leave that frustration behind.

“We can’t complain or think about these kinds of things because we just have to improve.”

Karanka also gave reporters an insight into what has been the approach at Wast Hills in the past days.

He told the press: “It is a little bit of everything. We have to keep believing, we have to keep going, keep trusting the players and letting them know we are not as bad as the table tells us.”

The Spaniard was then quizzed about The Robins and what he expects from a side who recently appointed Nigel Pearson as manager until the end of the current campaign.

Blues won at Ashton Gate in December and Karanka said: “It was good, but they are now a completely different team. They have a new manager, and he is very experienced. It will be difficult as they are not as bad as their last games are telling us because they have a very good manager and a very good squad. We have to prepare for the game knowing it will be a tough game, another game that we will try to do our best and add those three points at home.

“When I came here [to England] he was managing Leicester who got promotion and they were flying, that team went on to win the Premier League. He did really well. When he went to Watford last season, he almost saved them.

“They will want to improve on their last two fixtures because they lost them. For us, it is Bristol this weekend, then Reading and Watford, so every game is an important game. We have to think about ourselves and not make excuses about St. Andrew’s as we won our last game at home.”

Saturday’s test is followed by four successive games against sides in contention for promotion, but the Boss believes he has reason to be positive going into the next batch of fixtures.

On whether Blues should have any fear, he assessed: “If you look at the table, maybe yes, but if you look at our performances and results, then no. We were much better than Bristol and Reading, at least as good as Watford, as good or better than Swansea. So if you look at the table now maybe you can be concerned, but if you look at our performances against them I am more than calm."

Karanka was also able to provide the latest on both Sam Cosgrove, who got minutes from the bench against the Tykes, and whether there are any new injury concerns in the squad.

He said: “Sam has been good in training; he is hungry and wants to show that he is ready to play. He has been with us the whole week, which has been good. Before Barnsley, he had only had one session.

“Everybody is fit so let’s hope that nothing happens tomorrow [Friday].”

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