Middlesbrough coach Graeme Lee says two young midfielders could be loaned out this season

Under-23s coach Graeme Lee believes young midfielders Ben Liddle and Connor Malley are on the cusp of Middlesbrough’s first team but may have to go out on loan to aid their development.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 12:42 pm
Midfielder Connor Malley has played for Middlesbrough's senior side in pre-season.

Liddle, 20, and Malley, 19, gave a good account of themselves during Boro’s pre-season win over Bishop Auckland on Saturday, with both getting on the scoresheet in a 7-1 win.

The pair are rated highly in Boro’s academy and should benefit following the appointment of head coach Jonathan Woodgate at the Riverside.

Lee, who was announced as Boro’s under-23s boss last month, was asked about Liddle and Malley after the game at Heritage Park, and says the youngsters are progressing well.

“They’re definitely up there, they’re both very talented in different ways,” said Lee. “Ben is technically fantastic, great left foot and moves the ball fantastic.

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“Connor can handle the ball and do a drop of magic with three or four defenders around him which can create something. They’re very gifted lads and their work ethic is coming on and their physicality to play men’s football is just about there.”

Boro’s first team is well stocked with central midfielders, though, meaning the club’s younger players may have to go out on loan this season.

“They are on the fringes, they’ll have pathways,” added Lee. “If it’s not here they might go on loan and just develop that final little bit to get themselves in the first team.

“They might get in the first team this year we don’t know, we’re just waiting how pre-season goes now.”