“IF you’re good enough, you’re old enough”.
It’s a well-worn cliché but Middlesbrough’s Richard Smallwood is ready to celebrate turning 21 by emerging from the shadows of the Riverside Stadium.
Just days after his coming-of-age birthday at the end of December, the young midfielder found himself recalled to the first-team after a three-month hiatus.
And now, after a run of two matches and with Burnley next up on Teesside tomorrow, Smallwood is determined to stay in Tony Mowbray’s senior plans.
“It’s frustrating when you’re in the team but then find yourself out of it for a while,” he told SportMail.
“But that’s the same for all young players and it’s about patience.
“There comes a time though when you’ve got to take your chance and make sure you stay in the team.
“That’s what I’ve got to do.
“It’s one of those things in football that I’m back in because others have picked up injuries or suspensions, but I can’t worry about that.
“I’m in now and I’ve got to prove myself – if you’re good enough then you’re old enough, and I think I’m ready.”
Full story in Friday’s Mail