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I think Mikel showed today why he has played at the top level for the last 15 years. We are very lucky to have him here.

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka's comments after seeing his side come away with a point against the R's on Saturday afternoon...

His overall thoughts on the game...
“It feels like we lost two points today because we had the better chances in this game. I still thought it was a good performance and another step forward. We defended really well and were more offensive and we showed some good consistency on the pitch and we should have won the game. It's a shame especially for the players, because we didn't deserve to lose the last game (against Norwich), and today we deserved to win it. But I've told them to keep going because they've done really well.”

On setting up with a 3-5-2 formation against QPR and creating numerous chances…
“After the Norwich game I told them we should be more aggressive and offensive, and I changed the shape (to a 3-5-2). I told them we needed to be braver. The three (central) midfielders were amazing with the job that they did.”

His thoughts on Mikel San Jose’s first start…
”I think Mikel showed today why he has played at the top level for the last 15 years. I had to be sure when he was going to play, but he has trained really well. He is going to give us a lot of things because of his experience and quality. But he’s not a teenager and he didn’t play a lot of games last year, so we need to be careful with him. We are very lucky that he is here. And now from this game, he will improve and be even better because he's a very good player and with him the team will improve for sure.”

On resting Ivan Sanchez…
“Ivan Sanchez didn’t play today because I felt he was exhausted. He’s new to this country and this league and has been doing really well, but after the Norwich game he looked tired. But Gaz (Gardner) took his place and did brilliantly. With so many games in a row and with the Covid situation and injuries, every single game I have to try and find the best 11 and for that I have a very competitive squad.”

On how well Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean and George Friend performed as a trio in defence...
“It was not a surprise because they are really confident, and they know what they have to do with and without the ball.”

On goalless draw and clean sheet...
“I’m not concerned because of the commitment we are seeing out on the pitch. I am the sort of manager that prefers to draw 0-0 rather than 5-5 or 4-4. Because as I said the first day a clean sheet means commitment. With the players we have the more games we play together and the more we train, we will score more goals.”

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