Middlesbrough’s promotion season of 2015/16 saw both Adam Clayton and Grant Leadbitter emerge as one of the best central-midfield pairings in the division, but since the arrival of Tony Pulis, club-captain Leadbitter has dropped down the pecking order.
Middlesbrough signed Paddy McNair, George Saville and Muhamed Besic in the summer, and pre-season saw the emergence of youngster Lewis Wing. Now it would seem all four players are ahead of Leadbitter when it comes to team selection.
Leadbitter lead the side out on Tuesday night and scored a penalty in the shootout to put Boro into the fourth round draw. After the game the 32-year old spoke about the competition for places in the team in an interview that appeared in The Northern Echo, and he admitted that he hates not playing.
His professionalism is what he is hoping will get him back in the side, and feels in a long hard season, fringe players such as himself will be given a chance.
“I don’t change whether I’m in the team or not,” he said. “I do my stuff every day on the football pitch, and that professionalism will never change, in or out of the team.
“The players that are playing in the team (for Championship matches) at the minute are doing well. So the players that are out of the team just have to keep fighting because you can’t complain when the team’s winning games and staying unbeaten.
“There’s a lot of games, and I’m sure other lads will get a crack if there’s a period where the team isn’t doing so well. If that happens, you just have to make sure that if you do get called upon, you’re ready.”