Aitor Karanka: "We need a reaction."

We are ready to go again and I’m looking forward to the game.

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka is looking for a reaction from his players as Blues face Nottingham Forest in the Sky Bet Championship.

The squad have spent the week preparing at the Trillion Trophy Training Centre and are looking to bounce back from a tough period of matches where Blues took on three top-half teams.

Their next fixture sees Blues face Karanka’s second former club in as many matches, with the Spaniard mindful that Forest’s league position might not tell the full story of a team who finished seventh last season.

Speaking to a selection of both local and national media, the 47-year-old assessed Saturday’s opposition - who he managed for 12 months between 2018 and 2019 - and what he expects from his side at the weekend.

He said: “If you look at Forest’s squad and the manager – he is one of the best and most experienced – their position in the table doesn’t reflect how good they are. They have a very good squad and I know most of them. It is a game we have to try to win, after three defeats we need a reaction.

“I have very good memories”, said Karanka, before he added: “But now I have to try to win because I need those three points and so do they. Let’s see what happens but it is a game I am trying to win of course.”

Boxing Day’s fixture is Blues’ 21st league outing of a congested campaign and the Head Coach explained how he has used the time without a midweek fixture to prepare for the trip to the City Ground.

He said: “We needed the last week to work on the pitch at the training ground because the previous four weeks have been a crazy Championship calendar. We have had a good week on the training ground to work again and to try and recover.

“Now we have had this week, we are ready to go again and I’m looking forward to the game.”

Conducting his pre-match press conference via Zoom, Karanka emphasised the faith he has in his squad and how the mood remains positive, whilst outlining what needs to change so consistency can be achieved.

“I was really disappointed because we lost those games in the way we did. But working on the training ground you can see how good this group of players is, how good the atmosphere is and the intensity of the training. It is a pleasure to train every day with this group of players.

“We just need to try and fix those little mistakes because the team is playing well and is compact, so it is to not switch off in the games as those individual mistakes are costing us.”

Blues’ Head Coach also ensured that supporters were not forgotten during these difficult times, acknowledging how fans typically enhance the festive matches.

He said: “It is nice for everybody to go to the stadium and it is a shame now, on Boxing Day, that the stadium will be empty. It is frustrating for everybody, so the only thing we can do is to try and win the game for our fans to be celebrating at home.”

Supporters can watch this game live on BluesTV for only £10.