After narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season, Chris Wilder is now looking towards the new season with the hope that his Middlesbrough side can break into the top six.
Admittedly Boro haven’t made an overwhelming number of additions to the side yet but it’s worth remembering that there were some good players already at the club who could really step up next season.
Riley McGree is one name that the boss backs to do so.
The 23-year-old signed for the club in January and although he only made 11 appearances between then and the end of the season, with a full pre-season under his belt, his manager feels positive about his progress.
Wilder expects plenty from the midfielder this season as he told Teesside Live: “We knew he could play ten. Last year we had the boys that we had in and it was stop start for Riley. Going away, coming back late and then getting him up to speed. He had an issue with his calf but you’ve seen the impact of a good pre-season. He’s going to be a big performer at the top of the pitch this year.
“He can play in that position that he’s played last year. Tav can play there. He’s just one of those players that you can ask him to a do a job and he will do it to the best of his ability but he’s a good player and we’re expecting him to kick on this year.
“I think he is an exciting player. He’s got in the box and had two or three shots [against Morecambe mid-week], he links play, he’s bright and intelligent, he’s got good athleticism and he was the type of player that we wanted to attract. We’ve done that.
“We’ve attracted Riley and Giles. The modern day game is mobility, speed, distances covered. You’ve got to be an athlete and be able to run and Riley can run and play. That is the characteristics we need this season.”
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Although Riley McGree didn’t make the most appearances last season after signing for the club, he showed glimpses of his talent and it seems as though he’s worked hard in pre-season to show his manager that.
At 23-years-old, the midfielder has time to establish himself in this side and develop his career further which is no doubt what his manager sees him doing next year.
McGree seems to have the ability to play in different roles on the pitch which will make him an asset in the Middlesbrough’s side next season and if he can perform well throughout the year he could become an undroppable player making this a big season ahead for him.