Middlesbrough were 3-0 winners as they faced Carlisle United in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week, with plenty of fringe players getting a run out for the Teessiders.
Goals from Adam Clayton, Paddy McNair and youngster Mitchell Curry meant Middlesbrough recorded a comfortable victory over Carlisle.
Clayton and McNair have struggled for minutes of late. With the pair often being limited to appearances from the substitutes bench or cup competitions.
McNair was one of three summer signings, alongside Aden Flint and George Saville, but the Northern Irish defender has failed to live up to his £5 million price tag. He has often played as a right back or right wing-back, although he has expressed his desire to play in midfield, especially having scored five goals last season for Sunderland from this position.
Injuries in defence have forced George Saville and Jonny Howson to operate as wing-backs in recent weeks to good effect, and McNair will feel hard done by not to get a look in. The former-Manchester United man did come on in central-defence in the game away at Blackburn, and looked more comfortable than out wide.
Other fringe players including Marcus Tavernier, Rajiv van La Parra and Rudy Gestede were also given opportunities in the game, as was striker Jordan Hugill who has lost his place to Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher up front.
All players gave a good account of themselves in the win, and could put themselves in the manager’s thoughts with games coming thick and fast between now and the end of the season.