Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel delivers verdict on Middlesbrough's promotion hopes and 'top, top player' Lewis Wing

John Obi Mikel. Getty Images.
John Obi Mikel. Getty Images.

John Obi Mikel believes Middlesbrough are well placed in the Championship promotion race - and says the club has an exciting talent in Lewis Wing.

Boro are fifth in a fiercely competitive battle for promotion following the 1-1 draw with automatic promotion hopefuls Leeds United, Kalvin Phillips snatching a late point for Marcelo Bielsa's side.

Despite that disappointment, Boro remain well placed, though sixth-placed Bristol City and Derby County, just outside the top six, are breathing down their neck.

January signing Mikel - who admits the Championship is a "much tougher" division than the Premier League - says confidence remains high in the Boro camp and believes the club will be able to achieve their ambitions this season.

And he says the Boro squad is firmly behind boss Tony Pulis.

“We have to keep going, we have a very good team with a very good manager who we all believe in," said Mikel, ahead of Wednesday night's trip to third-placed Sheffield United

"We all know what he wants us to give on the pitch. If you give that he is happy. We have to keep going, we know we can achieve what we want.

“We know this is part of a run of three massive games in a row, two are out of the way, and we have one more. Every game from now on will be tough. We need to go in every game and look to win, unfortunately we didn’t get three points against Leeds.

“It’s a good sign when you look at the last two league games and we have got four points from those games. It is a good mentality to have by looking at it that way.

“We wanted three points but we didn’t get those. We have to keep going, believing that we can beat anyone in this league.

"Come the end of the season we have to believe we can achieve what we want.”

Mikel added: “It’s a tough division, much tougher than the Premier League when you look at it properly. I have to keep going and I will give 100 per cent.

“We knew we had a point to prove against Leeds. The Newport game was one of those games. We wanted to win and the lads wanted to win but unfortunately we didn’t get the win and we knew Leeds would be a tougher game against a very good side.

“We knew we had to put in a good performance for the fans, for the club, for everybody. We wanted to get all three points but we will look back on it and this will be one point against a very good team before facing Sheffield United.”

Boro took the lead against Leeds through Lewis Wing, it was the fourth goal of the campaign for the 23-year-old midfielder and he won praise from experienced midfielder Mikel.

On Wing, Mikel added: “He looks to me a very good player. I don’t know how old he is but if he keeps going like this he will be a top, top player.

"When I watch him play and when I watch him in training, I see he is a good player. He got a good goal and it is a shame he had to come off. He looks a good player to me."