Aitor Karanka is confident of rekindling the best form of Boro's latest January arrival Patrick Bamford.

The 23-year-old striker hit 19 goals while on loan with the Teessiders in the 2014/15 season, and Karanka stressed on several occasions the door was always open for his return.

Bamford has since struggled for game time while on loan at a succession of Premier League clubs, but Boro's Head Coach says he is now in the best place to make his mark on the top flight.

"I'm really pleased because he's a player I like a lot," Karanka said.

"He played his best football when he was here with us, and he has matured since then.

"But we have to be careful. He has not played a lot over the last eighteen months so the first thing we need to do is recover his confidence, as we have with players like Victor Valdes, Alvaro Negredo and Gaston Ramirez.

"He knows the most important thing is that I trust him. I am sure he will be important for us, the way he was two years ago."

Karanka says that Bamford, who will wear shirt number 20 for Boro, brings vital versatility up front.

"He can play in any attacking position," Karanka said.
"He always thinks forward which is what we need now, and what we are sometimes lacking.

"With his movement, he is always trying to think ahead and score goals."

Meanwhile, Karanka was quick to dismiss transfer speculation linking fellow attacking players Adama Traore and Ramirez with Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.

"Adama wasn't playing at Aston Villa last season, and if one of the best teams in the world is now looking at him, that shows how well we are doing. 

"But he has to keep his feet on the ground. He's young and has a lot of potential but he needs to improve. The best thing for him and the team is to keep focused on his football.

"Gaston is another who wasn't playing a year ago - now he is playing well, scoring goals and making assists.

"He's our player, he's important to us and he knows that."