It’s been a strange old season for Middlesbrough.
A new manager and a team in transition has led to plenty of difficulty since the start of the August, but one positive has been the number of opportunities handed to young players.
Djed Spence, Hayden Coulson and Marcus Tavernier are among the names of players who are now deemed to be first team regulars under Jonathan Woodgate, but it’s between the sticks where one man has really taken his opportunity.
Aynsley Pears was expected to be a back-up option this term, but following an injury to Darren Randolph and the following move to West Ham, the 21-year-old was tasked with stepping up to the plate.
Dejan Stojanovic was brought in to add competition for places, but it’s Pears who has retained the jersey for much of the campaign.
But why has the young stopper been so impressive? We took to Wyscout to have a look.
Few can argue that the goalkeeper has exceeded expectations this term.
While everyone knew that Aynsley Pears was one for the future, it wasn’t thought that he would be ready to much such a consistent impact at Championship level at this stage of his career.
23 appearances in all competitions speaks for itself, with the young stopper already showing that he’s more than capable of playing at this level.
Pears has conceded 28 goals during those appearances – a tally which certainly isn’t bad given the club’s struggles in the bottom half of the table.
A slight concern, however, would be the expected goals conceded of 26.73 which indicates that he should be marginally better off in terms of his goals conceded record.
Can you name where these 15 Middlesbrough players started their career?
That said, seven clean sheets is a decent return for a player who’s effectively featured for half of a season.
In that time Pears has been called into action with an average of 3.72 shots per game, and has made an average of 2.62 saves per game.
It’s a record which, given his status as an up-and-coming prospect in the league is certainly a good platform to build on, and if given the opportunity he’ll no doubt be hoping to prove himself as one of the best young stoppers in the Championship next term.