Football League World
·8 settembre 2023
Football League World
·8 settembre 2023
It has been an incredibly disappointing start to the season for Middlesbrough in the Championship.
After being beaten by Coventry City in the play-off semi-finals last season, Boro were widely expected to challenge at the top of the division again this campaign.
However, it has not worked out that way so far and Michael Carrick's side head into the international break sitting bottom of the table after picking up just one point from their opening five league games.
Boro have lost a number of key players this summer, with the club failing to secure a return for any of last season's influential loanees such as Zack Steffen, Ryan Giles, Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer, while top scorer Chuba Akpom made a £12.2 million move to Dutch giants Ajax.
Carrick brought in Alex Gilbert, Rav van den Berg, Tom Glover, Morgan Rodgers, Sammy Silvera, Seny Dieng, Jamie Jones, Lukas Engel, Emmanuel Latte Lath, Alex Bangura, Sam Greenwood and Lewis O'Brien this summer, but so far, the new additions have struggled to provide the quality that has been lost with the high-profile exits.
The 28-year-old is yet to keep a clean sheet so far this season, but he has proven to be a safe pair of hands between the sticks.
Smith has had a disrupted start to the season due to injury and suspension, with Paddy McNair filling in at right-back.
McNair has struggled against the pacier wingers in the division, so Carrick will be keen to get Smith back playing regularly, although it could be argued that the out-of-favour Anfernee Dijksteel deserves an opportunity.
Academy graduate Fry signed a new three-year deal with his boyhood club this summer.
After missing much of the second half of last season, Fry has featured regularly in the early weeks of the campaign and he looks set to be a key player in the year ahead.
Lenihan has been a virtual ever-present for Boro since his move from Blackburn Rovers last summer.
The Irishman has played every minute of every game so far in all competitions and he has been handed the captain's armband on occasions in the absence of Jonny Howson.
Carrick is facing a dilemma at left-back after the arrivals of Engel from Silkeborg and Bangura from Cambuur.
Engel has adapted well to the Championship in recent weeks and deserves to keep his place for now.
Despite being 35 years of age, captain Howson still has a huge influence on this Boro team.
Howson was missed in the early weeks of the season when he was sidelined with injury and while he faces strong competition for his place following the signing of O'Brien on loan from Nottingham Forest, he is too important to leave out.
Boro will have been delighted to tie Hackney down to a new contract this summer, with the 21-year-old putting pen-to-paper on a deal that will keep him at the Riverside Stadium until summer 2027.
The academy graduate made a huge impact for Carrick's side last season and he will be hoping to kick on in the year ahead.
There is plenty of competition for places on the right for Boro, but Forss should be Carrick's first choice in this position.
The 24-year-old scored 10 goals and provided five assists in 42 appearances in all competitions last season and he will be a threat once again this campaign.
Greenwood made his Boro debut as a substitute in the defeat against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday following his loan move from Leeds United and it was a promising cameo from the 21-year-old.
With Rogers struggling to make an impression in the number 10 position, Greenwood should be given a run in the team.
It has been surprising to see McGree's minutes limited this season.
Silvera has been preferred to McGree on the left so far and while he has shown glimpses of his ability, he has lacked end product and been incredibly wasteful in front of goal, so McGree should be restored to the starting line-up.
Latte Lath joined Boro from Italian side Atalanta this summer and he opened his account for the club in the defeat at West Bromwich Albion last month.