According to journalist Graeme Bailey, Middlesbrough planned to swap midfielder Paddy McNair with Stoke City’s Sam Clucas in the recent transfer window.

McNair has been vital to Middlesbrough’s early season form, going unbeaten since their opening day defeat. The Northern Ireland international has been utilised on the right of a back three and has been one of Boro’s star performers.

Graeme Bailey tweeted the news in response to fellow-journalist Dominic Shaw who stated that Boro boss Neil Warnock knew he was going to play McNair in defence after one performance in particular.

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Most likely this will have been in pre-season as the 71-year old veteran manager claimed McNair was playing ‘like Beckenbauer’ in defence.

But in the summer there was talk of McNair departing the Riverside and details have emerged that a move to Stoke failed to materialise. The deal would have seenMcNair make the switch to the Bet365 Stadium with Sam Clucas move in the other direction.

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This swap broke down over complications with wages, but both sides will feel like they got the best outcome. Middlesbrough and Stoke have played well in their first seven games and will be knocking on the door of the top six soon.

Clucas started Stoke’s first five games, playing 90 minutes in each and captaining the side. However, he has not featured in the Potters’ last two fixtures against Barnsley and Brentford. He is expected to return to the first-team fold against Swansea City this evening at the Liberty Stadium.