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Chris Wilder makes revelation over versatile Middlesbrough star’s position ahead of the new campaign

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder has told Teesside Live he is not planning on moving Paddy McNair back to midfield next season.

McNair, 27, impressed fans with his performances last season in the Championship.

The Northern Irish international is a natural midfielder, but he featured predominantly in a central defensive role last season for Wilder and seems settled in his newfound role.

He joined Middlesbrough from Sunderland back in 2018 and has proved a consistent member of the starting XI ever since.

In 42 appearances last season McNair contributed to eight Championship goals (five goals, three assists), an admirable return for a defensive-minded player.

Now, speaking to Teesside Live, Wilder has revealed all when it comes to McNair’s role next season. When asked about a possible return to midfield, he said:

“It’s not something I’m planning to do.

“I think it’s been quite tough for Paddy at times because of his versatility. It can sometimes be your downfall as well.

“He wants to play in a certain position, though we know he will play for us in any position. But he wants to play in one position and we want to get the best out of him as well.

“We need competition for places. I see Paddy as a right-sided centre-back in a three where he will battle it out with Anf (Djiksteel), but if we have to, we know he can play six and he can play eight and he can play, as he did for the majority of last year, left of the back three.”

Wilder’s no-nonsense attitude has helped Boro since he took over. Wilder narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season and there is no doubt a top-six finish will be the aim this time around.

Versatility is key…

The Championship campaign is a long one. Teams often play over 50 games across all competitions and that can mean large squads and versatility become necessary.

Having a player like McNair in your squad can hugely increase your chances of success. He can fill in comfortably in a number of different roles and positions and Wilder clearly knows how to get the best out of him.

The recent interview from Wilder suggests he’s going to stick with the same three-back formation he used throughout last season and that can only be a good thing. It’s a system that has served him well over the years, gaining promotion to the Premier League with Sheffield United while deploying a back three.

McNair’s performances could be the centre of Boro’s success next season and hopefully, he can carry on the form he has demonstrated at centre-back under Wilder so far.

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