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Kike poised for Boro bow

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Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka could hand debuts to summer signings Kike, James Husband and Emilio Nsue against Birmingham.

Spanish striker Kike, a B£2.7million signing from Real Murcia, defender Husband and the versatile Nsue, who arrived last week from Real Mallorca, are all in contention to start at the Riverside.

Karanka also has the option of starting with Kenneth Omeruo, who the club re-signed this week on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea.

But long-term absentees Rhys Williams and Mzzy Carayol, plus Emanuel Ledesma will play no part.

Despite the late departure of Tom Adeyemi to Cardiff, Birmingham boss Lee Clark insists he has had his best ever pre-season, either as a player or coach, and will look to take a strong squad.

Blues pulled off a great escape last term when drawing 2-2 at Bolton on the final day, with a last-gasp equaliser from Paul Caddis keeping them up on goal difference, and have only Matt Green receiving treatment at the moment after Jonathan Spector came through a midweek friendly.

Among the new recruits looking to make their debuts are Denny Johnstone from Celtic, David Edgar from Burnley, Stephen Gleeson from MK Dons, Wes Thomas from Rotherham, Navid Nasseri from Bury, Mark Duffy and David Cotterill, who were both brought in from Doncaster and Clayton Donaldson from Brentford.

Defender Gavin Cunning arrives from Dundee United and will be joined at the back by former Oldham regular Jonathan Grounds, with Grant Hall on-loan from Tottenham up front.

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