Middlesbrough relishing Chelsea challenge as they look to book Carabao Cup final spot

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick hopes to lead his side to the Carabao Cup final. Credit: PA Images

Michael Carrick says his Middlesbrough side will embrace the challenge ahead of them as they face Chelsea in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Boro take a one-goal lead into the tie at Stamford Bridge, meaning a clean sheet would be enough to secure their spot at Wembley in February's final.

It would be the first time the club has reached a League Cup final since 2004, when they beat Bolton Wanderers at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to bring the trophy back to Teesside.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Chelsea, Carrick said: "We're certainly expecting the best version of them. We know what we're walking into.

"We got a big boost from the first game, but that's as far as it goes. We know what we're facing and the individual quality and a team that's well-coached and collectively very strong.

"We're not getting ahead of ourselves, but certainly from the first game and competing against Aston Villa, the boys have handled it very well and are looking forward to doing it again."

Jonny Howson and Isaiah Jones face a race to be fit for the Carabao Cup semi final second leg at Stamford Bridge. Credit: PA Images

Middlesbrough could be without key players for the tie, with the in-form Isaiah Jones and club captain Jonny Howson facing late fitness tests.

Jones damaged a hamstring during a 1-1 draw with Rotherham, which Howson missed after sustaining a knock in training. Carrick will also be without Emmanuel Latte Lath for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

"We're still waiting to see on Jonny and Izzy but Manu is out a little bit longer," he explained. "You won't see him for a little bit more time.

"We're still assessing Jonny and Izzy, trying to give him as long as we can to maybe be ready and in and around the squad."

Boro are understood to have knocked back an approach for Morgan Rogers. Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile, Sam Greenwood and January arrivals Finn Azaz and Luke Ayling are unavailable as they are cup-tied, while Riley McGree and Sam Silvera are away on international duty.

Middlesbrough are also understood to have rejected approaches for forward Morgan Rogers, who has attracted the attention of Aston Villa.

The 21-year-old made the move to the Riverside in the summer and has six goals in 31 appearances for Michael Carrick's side.

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