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Grant Leadbitter impressed by Middlesbrough's strength in depth despite lack of game time

Grant Leadbitter playing for Middlesbrough.
Grant Leadbitter playing for Middlesbrough.

Grant Leadbitter is looking at the bigger picture after leading Middlesbrough through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup last night.

The Boro captain has played just twice in the Championship this campaign, after falling down the pecking order in central midfield at the Riverside.

But Leadbitter, 32, believes the competition for places is a good thing, with the Teessiders pushing for promotion back to the Premier League.

Boro manager Tony Pulis named a young side as Boro overcame Preston 4-3 on penalties at Deepdale, with no fewer than ten academy graduates playing their part.

And Leadbitter, who converted the first spot kick, was quick to praise his side's performance.

"It's good for the football club and for the players who haven't played for a while," Leadbitter told mfc.com after the game.

"It was a strong Preston side and we put them out so credit to the boys and the young ones as well.

"I thought it was a good performance, up to 70 minutes we played very well. They put us under pressure in the last twenty but we dug deep.

"It's obvious that Middlesbrough has a strong squad, that's plain to see. That's why we're one of the favourites to go up and I fully expect that to happen.

"We keep going, and winning games for that momentum."

Leadbitter has been a loyal servant for Boro during his six years at the club, after signing for the Teessiders from Ipswich in 2012.

He has been the club's penalty taker for most of that time, and believes it's important to lead by example.

"I'm a penalty taker for this football club," said the midfielder.

"I always believe you've got to step up and set the standard.

"I stayed calm and scored, as all the other boys did."