Jonathan Woodgate reveals who he thinks has been Middlesbrough's best player so far this season

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate believes Paddy McNair has been the side’s best player so far this season.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 6:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 6:17 pm
Paddy McNair scored his first goal for Middlesbrough last weekend in a 1-1 draw with Millwall.

The Northern Ireland international has started every Championship game this term and netted his first goal for the Teessiders in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Millwall.

It’s been some turnaround for the 24-year-old who made just 16 league appearances under former Boro boss Tony Pulis, following his reported £5million move from Sunderland in 2018.

When he did play, McNair was often deployed in defence, yet the player has found a new lease of life after returning to his natural midfield role under Woodgate.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I think Paddy has been our best player in the first six games,” said Woodgate ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bristol City. “I think he’s been the bright spot for us considering he played hardly any minutes last season and hardly any minutes in his preferred position.

“He’s one of those midfielders who goes box-to-box and can do everything, he’s come on leaps and bounds so it’s great for us.”

Along with Boro team-mate George Saville, McNair has been called-up to represent Northern Ireland in their upcoming friendly against Luxembourg and Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany next month.

Boro striker Rudy Gestede and goalkeeper Darren Randolph have also been selected for Benin and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

When asked about his international players, Woodgate added: “You’d like to work with the whole of your squad but we’re not in an ideal world. They’ve got to go and play for their countries which they love doing, I encourage them to do that.”