‘Very good’ – Middlesbrough manager full of praise for midfield debutant
Speaking after Middlesbrough triumphed 2-1 over Rotherham United on Wednesday evening, manager Neil Warnock was full of praise for youngster Connor Malley.
Malley was making his Middlesbrough debut in midweek and his performance saw him awarded the Sky Sports Man of the Match.
Centre-midfield is one position where Middlesbrough have a plethora of options. The likes of Sam Morsy, Jonny Howson, George Saville and Marcus Tavernier are all competing for places and Malley will surely be another one to add to that list.
Following Grant Hall’s substitution midway through the first-half, Neil Warnock chanced his arm and put on a midfielder in his place after Rotherham United were reduced to ten men.
It was an inspired choice with Malley impressing and Boro coming from a goal down to win 2-1 after goals from Saville and striker Chuba Akpom.
“I thought Connor was very good,” said manager Neil Warnock.
“We could have put Hayden [Hackney] on, but we just thought with the ten men, Connor is more comfortable on the ball, and there were more chances for him to create.
“He sometimes lacks a little bit of quickness in there, but we knew with ten men he wouldn’t get closed down as much.
“So, we went with him and it was the right decision. He just enjoyed it, it looked like he had played there for years.”
Warnock had previously stated that he would be giving opportunities to fringe players in the latter stages of the season. It looks to be from this week onwards.
Malley’s debut was soon followed by Josh Coburn’s. The 18-year-old was brought on with a few minutes to go but wasn’t able to have the sort of impact as the 21-year-old midfielder.
He could be rewarded with his first start of his Boro career when they host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday evening.
The win against Rotherham takes Warnock’s side up to 10th in the table. The play-offs are now out of reach but they will be looking to finish the campaign strongly and take some good form into pre-season before aiming to push into the Championship top-six next time around.