Ex-Aston Villa full-back Neil Taylor started for Middlesbrough’s Under-23s team against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League Cup last night, after previously being linked with a move to the Riverside Stadium.
Football League World understood that the Teesside outfit were closely monitoring the 32-year-old last month ahead of a potential move – and it now seems they have finally moved to bring him into the building with Chris Wilder taking charge last Sunday.
It’s currently unclear whether Boro’s new manager played a part in the former Wales international’s arrival at the Riverside, although some of the club’s summer recruitment was handled away from predecessor Neil Warnock which could be a sign of things to come, even in this case with Taylor.
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The second-tier side have been on the search for a left-sided player since sending Hayden Coulson out on loan to Ipswich Town in the previous transfer window and missing out on previous free agent Robbie Brady, who opted to join Championship rivals AFC Bournemouth instead.
Left-back Taylor, who only made for competitive appearances for Aston Villa last term and was released by the West Midlands club on the expiration of his contract in the summer, would be an experienced option to compete with Marc Bola, though Onel Hernandez and Isaiah Jones may also be utilised at left wing-back if Wilder opts to utilise a 3-5-2 formation with no advanced wingers.
It is currently unknown whether Boro are likely to pursue a permanent deal for his services at this stage, although he did start last night at the expense of some of the club’s younger players as spotted by Boropolis.
Ex-Wales international Taylor operated well as a wing-back under Chris Coleman during Euro 2016 and thrived in that position against some of the best nations in Europe, including Belgium in the quarter-final.
Although he’s older now and that tournament in France was over five years ago, the fact he’s shown he can execute this role well will be a huge source of encouragement for Boro fans would be eager to see what he could do if they tied him down to a contract.
Making sure he gets up to speed before offering him a permanent deal will be crucial though, because Boro already invested heavily on new players and their salaries in the summer and will need to be clever in January to recruit the right players ahead of a potential promotion push.
Jones and Hernandez could be options in this position, but having someone of Taylor’s experience who can defend and has a respectable amount of Premier League experience under his belt can only be a good thing for Wilder’s men.
But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the club wait at least a month or so before making a decision on his future, with no other sides currently reported to be interested in recruiting him at this stage.