THREE young Middlesbrough players who will hope to become first-team regulars under Jonathan Woodgate
New Middlesbrough head coach Jonthan Woodgate is keen to give young players a chance at the Riverside next season, with many up-and-coming prospects already vying for a first-team place.
We take a closer look at three Boro players who will be hoping to nail down a regular starting spot on Teesside this campaign:
Lewis Wing – The former non-league midfielder made significant progress last season, making 28 Championship appearances in his first full season with Boro’s senior side.
Wing, 23, would have played more if it wasn’t for a detrimental hernia injury which required surgery in April.
On his return to the side, Wing produced a man of the match performance and scored Boro’s equaliser in a 2-1 win over Reading.
The Teessiders are well stocked in the middle of the park, yet Wing provides a significant goal threat and creativity that Boro have been crying out for in recent years.
Marcus Tavernier – Many Boro fans were surprised they didn’t see more of the pacey winger last season, due to a lack of options in wide areas.
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Tavernier still made 20 league appearances last term, and when asked why the winger wasn’t playing more, former boss Tony Pulis said: "He's going to be a top player. He'll eventually play in the Premier League.
"He's still a little bit...some days he comes in and he's brilliant, some days he's a bit lackadaisical."
Following the departure of Stewart Downing, Tavernier, 20, and Marvin Johnson, who spent last season out on loan at Sheffield United, are the only natural widemen in Boro’s squad.
Ashley Fletcher – After a sticky start at Boro and difficult loan spell with Sunderland, the former Manchester United trainee appeared to be at a crossroads.
But after barely featuring in the first half of last season, Fletcher became a regular starter from February onwards, scoring five goals in 10 games after his return to the side.
With last season’s top scorer Britt Assombalonga away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, Fletcher should receive a chance to impress during Boro’s pre-season schedule.