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83.3% pass success, 1.6 tackles per game: Is this man the key to Middlesbrough’s play-off push?

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Middlesbrough spent more money than anyone else in the Championship over the summer following their relegation from the Premier League.

That left them with an incredibly strong squad, with options all over the pitch and you’d have been hard pushed to find anyone in August who wasn’t tipping them for an instant return to the top flight.

One of their strongest areas of the pitch was central midfield, with Grant Leadbitter, Adam Forshaw and Adam Clayton already at the club, Jonny Howson and Lewis Baker arrived to bolster the Boro engine room.

That meant Adlene Guedioura couldn’t get a game and Marten de Roon returned to Italian football, such was the quality of Boro’s midfield options.

The competition for places has remained tough throughout the season – Forshaw and Guedioura have now left the club but Everton loanee Mo Besic arrived to add international and Premier League experience.

One man who has emerged from the pack and impressed throughout the season is Leadbitter – and we ran the numbers to see just how well he’d done.

You know what you’re getting from Leadbitter; tough tackling and reliable passing. Some might have expected Forshaw or Besic to take his spot in the side under Pulis but the former Sunderland man has played every league minute under the Welshman.

The Verdict

Pass success over 80%, passes per game over 50, and approaching two tackles per match – these are solid numbers.

He might be a little disappointed with his goal and assist return, but as we saw at the weekend with Britt Assombalonga’s comical penalty miss, he is no longer on spot-kick duty at the Riverside.

Pulis has shown his faith in his captain and now it’s up to him to repay it and drive the team to a spot in the play-offs come the end of the season.

Boro fans – what are your thoughts on Leadbitter’s season so far? Let us know in the comments below…

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