Middlesbrough coach discusses Coulson impact and Woodgate chat after Manchester United loss
Middlesbrough Under-23s lead coach Graeme Lee has praised youngster Hayden Coulson for his versatility and attacking attributes.
The 21-year-old has broken into the senior side this season and impressed at left-back before suffering a thigh injury in August.
That setback kept Coulson sidelined for two months, and the defender is still trying to build his fitness back up after making a first-team return last month.
The full-back was deployed on the flank in a 4-3-3 formation for Boro’s under-23 side against Manchester United on Monday night, and still posed a threat from a more advanced position.
“The joy of Hayden is that he is fantastic going forward and has great balance. “ said Lee after the match. “He can create and do a job at left-back and defend.
“To have someone up and down that left side either way is a plus for the first team. He’s back fit now, he’s got 90 minutes under his belt so hopefully that will put him in contention for the weekend.”
Boro’s under-23 side switched to a back three at Newcastle last week to mirror the first-team set-up, yet Lee’s side reverted to a back four against United.
Defender Marc Bola and winger Marcus Browne also started against the Red Devils, and Lee says he’s in regular contact with head coach Jonathan Woodgate.
When asked if he considered playing with a back three, Lee replied: “We looked at it, I spoke to Jonathan about the three players coming in so it was fitting Bola and Hayden into a formation which would suit them both.
“We went with a four like we’ve played with for the majority of games this season and we thought that might help us against Manchester United, at times it did, at times it didn’t.
“I speak to Jonathan and I’ll ask him if he wants me to play any formations but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Jonathan doesn’t dictate, he openly says he’s happy the way we want to play, we have a few wingers in our group which we like to use so if that’s the case we’ll play a different formation.”