Can reported Sheffield Wednesday target stake a claim? Where will ex-Bristol City man fit in? Key questions ahead of Middlesbrough's meeting with Tavistock AFC
Middlesbrough are preparing for their third pre-season friendly of the summer – with Neil Warnock’s side set to face non-league outfit Tavistock AFC – and there will be plenty of things to keep an eye on at Langsford Park.
Here are some of the key questions ahead of the match as Boro continue to gear up for the 2021/22 campaign.
Can Lewis Wing stake his claim?
The 26-year-old midfielder is at a stage in his career where he needs to be playing regularly – but will that be at Boro?
Wing, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Rotherham, impressed and scored the winner after coming off the bench against Saltash United on Monday, and will now hope for a start against Tavistock.
While he can operate as a central midfielder and has an eye for a pass, Wing’s best performances in a Boro shirt have come in the No 10 position, where he can quicken the pace and unleash his powerful shots at goal from around the penalty area.
Marcus Tavernier has started Boro’s first two friendlies in the advanced midfield role in a 4-2-3-1 system, and was the side’s first-choice option there last season.
Tavernier can also play out wide, yet the expected arrivals of Martin Payero and Matt Crooks will provide more competition for Wing.
Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham have both been credited with interest in the midfielder – yet Wing will surely want to force his way back into the side at Boro. The next few weeks could be crucial for him.
How will Jamie Paterson fit in?
It was announced earlier this week that the former Bristol City forward, who is a free agent after leaving Ashton Gate, had joined up with the Boro squad on trial.
Paterson, 29, was set to play some part against Saltash United but tweaked his ankle ahead of the match.
The priority for Warnock in the transfer market is still to bolster his attacking options by bringing in more strikers and at least another wide player.
While making just shy of 250 Championship appearances, mostly for Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, Paterson has played as a second striker, and on both flanks so would provide a versatile option.
It’ll be interesting to see where Warnock sees him fitting into the side and if the Boro boss feels it’s worth offering the player a permanent contract.
Will Marc Bola and Jonny Howson return?
Both players are recovering from injury setbacks but have travelled with the squad to Cornwall.
Neither Bola or Howson featured in Boro’s first two pre-season friendlies but will be eager to return and prove their fitness ahead of the new season.
Bola appears set to be the side’s first-choice left-back this campaign, and his return could mean more uncertainty for Hayden Coulson, who started against Bishop Aukland but came off the bench on Monday - when new signing Lee Peltier was selected instead.
Howson, 33, was repeatedly praised by Warnock last season but has competition in midfield, with Sam Morsy and Paddy McNair gaining minutes in the engine room.
If you add Payero and Crooks into the squad, Boro should have strength in depth in the middle of the park.