Middlesbrough boss, Neil Warnock, had a simple task last season when taking over: save our Championship status.

He did that and now has set his sights that little higher than just surviving. He has turned the Teessiders into contenders.

They currently sit 7th in the Sky Bet Championship table, just four points outside the play-off places.

The Sunday Mirror’s Neil Moxley (Sunday Mirror printed edition p70), says that Boro is looking to consolidate this with interest in Conor Hourihane.

Who is Conor Hourihane?

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Hourihane got his first big move when Barnsley paid Plymouth Argyle £225,000 for him in 2014.

It was at Oakwell that the Irish midfielder first really came to prominence. He made 134 appearances for the Tykes, scoring 31 goals and providing 48 assists during his time in South Yorkshire.

That sort of production is bound to catch the eye and one of those so caught was Aston Villa. Villa were so caught that they paid a fee thought to be £3m to bring the Barnsley captain to Villa Park.

Hourihane’s time at Villa Park has seen the midfielder make 150 appearances for the Villans, 150 appearances where he has scored 29 goals and provided 23 assists.

‘Word is out’ and Boro interested – one reporter warns of a tug-o-war

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29-year-old Hourihane has been a bit player in Villa’s 2020/21 campaign. The former £3m buy only has four Premier League appearances under his belt this season – with one goal and one assist to his name.

This lack of playing time no doubt is behind some of the noise being generated about ‘moves’ and ‘interest’ in him.

The Sunday Mirror’s Moxley writes that Hourihane has “emerged as a loan target for Middlesbrough” and that the “word is out” that Villa boss, Dean Smith, “will allow him to leave.

Of course, a player with Hourihane’s experience and skill would be snapped up by any club in the Championship should they think they need him.

When the word is out, it is often heard by many and Sun reporter Alan Nixon tips his hat to that in the following tweet:

Therefore, whilst Boro may be harbouring some plans to enquire about bringing Conor Hourihane in on loan, they need to be aware of the fact that others are too.

Would Conor Hourihane be a hit on Teesside for Middlesbrough?

Yes.

Has proved he can do it.

No.

Not what is needed.