Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka believes Alvaro Negredo will be crucial to his team in the Premier League this term if he can regain his confidence after a disappointing spell with Valencia.
The former Manchester City striker arrived on loan during the close-season after scoring just 10 LaLiga goals in two years, but he got off to a flyer against Stoke City at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Negredo took 11 minutes to find the net, bundling home from close range, and he caught the eye with some fine hold-up play and a few flashes of technical brilliance.
In the end Xherdan Shaqiri secured Stoke a point with a brilliant free-kick, but Karanka saw enough from his side to remain optimistic and he was keen to highlight Negredo's importance.
"I said when we signed him that he needs to recover confidence because he did not have a great season last season," he told Sky Sports. "He just needs to work on confidence. He was confident today.
"The team knows how important he is to the team and he knows how important he is. He knows how important the team is to him, too. He did well and it was a good game for us.
"Maybe I'm wrong, but we had seven or eight players playing in their first games at home here. They showed a lot and I'm really confident for the future of this team and for this season."
Boro appeared to show signs of nerves in the second half and Stoke took full advantage through Shaqiri, but Karanka was unperturbed.
"It was a really good game for us," he added. "Everyone in Middlesbrough has been waiting for this since we got promoted in May.
"Unfortunately we couldn't win the game, but one point and the performance was really good, so it was good. The attitude, how we played as a team; I am happy."
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