Leeds United winger backs international team-mate to kick on at Middlesbrough

Paddy McNair scored the winning goal for Northern Ireland against Belarus on Tuesday night.
Paddy McNair scored the winning goal for Northern Ireland against Belarus on Tuesday night.

Leeds United winger Stuart Dallas believes his Northern Ireland team-mate Paddy McNair should be playing more at Middlesbrough.

McNair, 24, scored the winner for the Green and White Army in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Belarus on Tuesday night, and has been a regular for his national side.

Yet McNair has rarely featured for Boro since his move from Sunderland last summer, after playing just 16 Championship games under Tony Pulis last term.

But Dallas has backed his compatriot to kick on next season, with Boro set to appoint former defender Jonathan Woodgate as their new boss.

“I’m delighted for Paddy. Paddy has been excellent," said Dallas following McNair’s performance on the international stage. “He’s had a tough season at Middlesbrough. He should be playing more regularly in my eyes but he’s proved what a really good player he is.

“He works hard, he’s fit and his running ability and how powerful he is are something else. You’d think the 90th minute was the first minute and it’s a credit to him.”

McNair was signed by Pulis as a central midfielder but often found himself deployed in defence due to injuries.

But the departures of John Obi Mikel and Mo Besic, who was on loan from Everton last season, could open the door for McNair to play in his natural position next term.

The Northern Irishman flourished in the middle of the park during his time at Sunderland in the Championship despite struggling with injuries during his spell on Wearside.