Michael Carrick has confirmed Middlesbrough will be without summer signing Lewis O’Brien for this evening’s game against Cardiff City.
The Nottingham Forest loanee has found himself at left-back for Middlesbrough in the past couple of outings, and has provided Carrick with a solution to an ongoing issue in that position. The 24-year-old has deputised for the injured Alex Bangura and Hayden Coulson, whilst form has kept Lukas Engel out of the side.
But with Bangura still on the sidelines, Coulson only just having returned and Carrick confirming O’Brien is set for a spell on the sidelines, it gives the Boro boss a significant selection headache ahead of their clash with Cardiff City this evening.
“Players do have setbacks. You don’t like to lose anybody, but it gives other boys an opportunity and that’s why we’ve got the squad we have,” Carrick told Teesside Live.
“We know that the season is going to throw things up at us, we’ve just got to deal with that the best we can. I’m gutted for Lewis, though, and we’ll have to get him back as quick as we can.”
It has not yet been confirmed how long O’Brien will be out of action for, but the games against Cardiff tonight and rivals Sunderland on Saturday could well come too soon for the versatile midfielder.
A dilemma at left-back…
As Carrick states, the injury to O’Brien means Middlesbrough will need to take advantage of their squad depth. Coulson could be fit and available after playing for the U21’s last week, whilst Engel could be trusted to bounce back after poor showings in recent weeks.
But what seems like the most likely solution will be Rav van den Berg switching from right-back to left-back as he did during the win over Watford at the weekend. The young defender has been one of a few success stories from the summer transfer window, and is more than capable of playing on the left side if needed.
O’Brien is a natural midfielder too and means there will be one less player to cover should there be injuries in the middle of the park. Hayden Hackney and Jonny Howson are the go-to duo and will only be backed up by Dan Barlaser should either suffer an injury.