Ex-Sunderland man told to make major positional switch at Middlesbrough

Paddy McNair has been urged to consider a positional switch
Paddy McNair has been urged to consider a positional switch

Paddy McNair has been urged to undergo a serious positional change if he wants to nail down a starting spot for Middlesbrough and Northern Ireland.

McNair, naturally a central midfielder, has struggled for first team opportunities since moving to the Riverside Stadium in the summer.

The 23-year-old has made just six appearances under Tony Pulis and is yet to start in the Championship after struggling to overcome the intense competition in the centre of the park.

And his national team manager, Michael O'Neill, has urged the former Manchester United youngster to consider a switch to right-back in order to secure more regular game time.

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O'Neill has already used McNair at full-back and was impressed with how he adapted to the role - and he is now keen to see the former Sunderland man make the switch a permanent one.

He believes that the attributes possessed by the Boro man would shine in that position.

“Right now Paddy is not starting for Middlesbrough,” said O’Neill.

“The challenge for Paddy now is to get into the Middlesbrough team and be prepared to play anywhere at a time when they are flying at the top of the Championship.

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"I had a good conversation with Paddy before the Israel game and told him where I was going to play him.

"Paddy is a player I like to have in the team, but with the shape of the midfield, he nearly needs to get into the team ahead of Steven Davis, which is a big ask.

"He has to get his mind around to thinking that right-back or wing-back could be his position. Against Israel he was superb.

"That's what we want; Paddy driving forward on the right and Jamal Lewis doing the same on the left. It gives you a real dynamic team.

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"I've said to Paddy that people are paying £50m for full-backs these days, so it's not a defensive position, it's more an attacking position.

"With the game in front of him he gets to maximise the attributes he has; his running power and his quality on the ball. I was delighted with how he played and his attitude."

McNair is set to team-up with the Northern Ireland squad for their upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 12 and 15.