It is sometimes easy to forget that Middlesbrough were in the Premier League just three seasons ago, given their struggles this term.
The Riverside club returned to the top-flight after a seven-year exile following relegation back in the 2008-2009 season.
A key man to Boro’s rise was former Real Madrid assistant manager Aitor Karanka.
The 46-year-old took charge at the Riverside in November 2013, guiding Boro to a 12th placed finish, before taking Boro to the play-off final the following campaign.
Middlesbrough wouldn’t dwell too much on that 2-0 defeat to Norwich City and would secure automatic promotion to the Premier League, pipping Brighton on goal difference on the final day of the 2015-2016 season.
Unfortunately, this term, Championship survival rather than promotion is the aim for Jonathan Woodgate’s men and with this in mind, we have taken a look at three players from Karanka’s era who would walk into the current Boro side…
The 24-year-old turned out 71 times for the Riverside club including 27 times during their Premier League season.
Following Boro’s relegation, the winger remained at the Riverside for another season, scoring five goals and chipping in with ten assists in 34 league appearances as Boro reached the Championship play-offs.
Boro would once again taste play-off heartache and the 24-year-old would leave the club for Wolves over the summer of 2018.
The winger has so far turned out 26 times for Wolves this term, scoring four goals and assisting seven goals, including an impressive performance against Manchester City.
With Boro the joint lowest scorers in the Championship so far this term, Traore would offer Jonathan Woodgate’s men pace and strength whilst going forward and would certainly walk straight into this current Boro side.
Currently training with his boyhood club, Ben Gibson has failed to impress since his move to Burnley in the summer of 2018.
His time at the Riverside was an absolute contrast to the one he has endured in Lancashire, turning out 204 times for the side, including all 38 Premier League games.
Although Boro have kept nine clean sheets so far this term, they seem to be devoid of leaders on the pitch when things are going wrong.
Gibson’s presence in the Boro side would no doubt improve things defensively but also help drag the team through difficult patches of games.
Gibson would undoubtedly walk straight into Woodgate’s side if he could.
QUIZ: Can you identify these 15 Middlesbrough players based on their date of birth and birthplace?
An exciting signing at the time when Danish winger Viktor Fischer arrived at the Riverside from Ajax back in 2016.
A knee injury would, unfortunately, hamper the 25-year-old’s season on Teesside with the winger only managing 13 appearances for the club, chipping in with three assists.
After leaving Boro, Fischer would endure an underwhelming spell at Mainz before joining his current club FC Copenhagen in 2018, where he scored seven goals and chipped in with nine assists in just 16 league appearances for the Danish side.
This season, the 25-year-old is riding high again in the assists charts and this sort of creativity wouldn’t go amiss on Teesside this term.