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When it comes to the managerial jobs available in football at this present moment, there will be few more attractive than that at Middlesbrough.

By Mark Donnelly
Monday, 10 June, 2019, 16:00
The FOUR Middlesbrough players who could prove key under new management

A squad that narrowly missed out on the play-offs, impressive facilities and a committed owner means that the new manager will have some firm foundations in place to mount a return to the Premier League.

And crucially for whoever succeeds Tony Pulis, there are a number of talented players on the books at the Riverside Stadium around whom a successful side can built.

Darren Randolph was among the most impressive goalkeeper's in the Championship last season

While there will undoubtedly be some change in the playing squad this summer - with high-earners likely to move on - the new man in charge will be inheriting some impressive individuals.

We take a look at the four players who the new Middlesbrough manager could build his squad around ahead of a potential promotion push:

DARREN RANDOLPH

Arguably the best goalkeeper in the Championship last season, Randolph’s talents were key to Boro’s play-off push. And while that surge towards the top six was ultimately unsuccessful, it’s wise not to think where the club would have finished were it not for the Irishman.

Dael Fry is attracting interest from Liverpool and Burnley, among other clubs

Middlesbrough were notoriously goal-shy last season and relied on a mean defence to keep them in contention. With the back four often chopped and changed due to injury and poor form, a great deal of responsibility fell to Randolph - and he flourished under the pressure.

In his 46 league appearances last season, the 32-year-old conceded just 41 times in what was the joint-best defensive record in the Championship.

Middlesbrough will no doubt hope to be more of an attacking force in the new campaign, with supporters left frustrated by Pulis’ defensive mindset last term, but Randolph’s talents will still no doubt be key.

There are few, if any, finer stopper’s in the second tier and Middlesbrough’s new boss will no doubt be aware of the importance of his new goalkeeper.

Another stellar season from Lewis Wing could prove key for Middlesbrough

DAEL FRY

Transfer talk continues to surround the future of the England under-21 international, but if Fry can be convinced that his future lies on Teesside then he will be a real asset in the new term.

His first-team chances may have been limited last season, partly due to injury, but the young centre back could be a key player in the new campaign.

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While Boro’s defence is arguably the one area that doesn’t need too much attention ahead of the new campaign, the new man in charge might be tempted to reshuffle his pack and hand Fry a chance.

Ashley Fletcher is likely to be given a chance to shine at the Riverside Stadium

And it would be a logical decision to do so, with the 21-year-old keen to push on and establish himself at first-team level. The likes of George Friend and Aden Flint will provide stern competition, but Fry could well be the man for Boro to build their defensive operation around next season.

LEWIS WING

Among several positives for Middlesbrough to take from the 2018/19 season was the emergence of Wing, who made an immediate impact on the first-team fold after spending time away from the club on loan.

A spell at League Two side Yeovil seems to have done the midfielder the world of good, as he coped with the step-up in quality to the Championship admirably and drew plenty of plaudits with some committed displays.

Tenacious, technically sound and capable of producing a moment of magic that is so often needed, Wing’s ability is clear to see - and if Boro’s new manager can continue to nurture his development and continue that upward trajectory, then Wing could well start to draw admiring glances from elsewhere.

Similarly to Fry, Wing will be up against some intense competition with Middlesbrough extremely well-stocked in the centre of the park. On his day, though, there are few more effective options in the squad and a new manager could harness his ability to great effect.

ASHLEY FLETCHER

It would be something of a surprise if Fletcher was to start the new season as Boro’s first choice striker - but he has a real chance to make his mark during pre-season.

His fellow forwards - Britt Assombalonga, Rudy Gestede and Martin Braithwaite - could all leave the club this summer, meaning the former Manchester United youngster has a chance to impress the new manager before replacements are signed.

Pre-season will be crucial for Fletcher, who impressed in fits and starts last season after a disappointing spell on loan at Sunderland during the prior campaign. Consistency will be key moving forward and the 23-year-old will have to prove he can be the 20-goal-a-season striker that all teams crave.

There are signs there that he can be, and the incoming boss could put his faith in Fletcher and back him to shine.

That would perhaps be something of a risk, but it could be one that pays dividends in the long-run. The striker has never been given a real chance to shine regularly for any of his former clubs and a prolonged run in the first-team could see him hit his best form.

Only time will tell, though, and Fletcher will have to be prepared to fight for his place when the inevitable new signings arrive.