Middlesbrough defensive duo Matt Clarke and Marc Bola have been pictured in light training ahead of their potential return from injury.
Middlesbrough have been without Clarke since their 1-0 away defeat to Coventry on the October 1st, with the centre-back missing the last 12 games with a back injury. In his absence, Dael Fry, Darragh Lenihan and Paddy McNair have deputised, whilst Bola also filled in at left centre-back during Chris Wilder’s time at the club.
Wilder deployed three at the back in his tenure, but with Michael Carrick now having taken over, there is one less place up for grabs in the back line, with the new boss changing to a four at the back. Therefore, with Clarke on the cusp of a return, he may not regain his place quite so easily.
Similarly, Marc Bola has missed the last six outings with a knee injury. But he too is nearing a return, as both Clark and the left-back were pictured in light training this week. Ryan Giles has been the go-to at left-back under both Wilder and Carrick, and will likely continue to be ahead of Bola in the pecking order when he gets back to full fitness.
A huge boost for Middlesbrough…
Despite other players having moved ahead of Clarke and Bola in terms of selection, the pair give Carrick a different option. Fry and Lenihan have formed a solid partnership in the heart of defence, but Clarke has proven his worth in this division and his ability to carry the ball out from the back could prove decisive in helping Boro to play a different way.
Wilder left Boro with a squad tailored to his preferred 5-3-2 formation, resulting in a lack of wingers and Carrick playing Riley McGree out of position at left-midfield. Bola’s return means Giles could be pushed further forwards with the returning left-back moving into defence.
Middlesbrough have been in good form under their new head coach and will be hoping for consistency between now and the end of the campaign to mount a charge on the top six. To do this they will need all the help they can get, and getting injured players back fit and available will go a long way in helping them achieve this goal.