Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock says that Marvin Johnson remains a big part of his plans, despite the 30-year-old’s apparent drop down the pecking order at The Riverside.
Johnson had been a regular feature in Warnock’s ‘Boro starting XI’s during the early part of the campaign, but has now been handed just one start in the club’s last seven games.
However, it seems as though the winger does still have a significant part to play for ‘Boro between now and the end of the campaign, with Warnock seemingly sympathetic to Johnson’s recent struggles for game time.
Speaking about Johnson’s recent lack of opportunities from the start of games, Warnock was quoted by Teesside Live as saying: “I’ve gone with other players in that area but he’s really unlucky.
“I said that to him yesterday, he was super yesterday in training. I just said to him, ‘you just have to keep going Marvin’.
“When he came on the other night, the running he did, I won’t go into detail, but it was unbelievable the amount of running he did in such a short space of time. We always look at stats and his stats were unbelievable.”
Having switched to a 3-5-2 formation for their midweek win over Huddersfield, it seems Warnock believes that continuing with that formation could help bring about more chances for Johnson.
Discussing the impact continuing with that system could have on the 30-year-old, he added: “Marvin is very much a part (of Warnock’s plans) but at the moment Bola is playing as well as I’ve seen him. We have wide players who can play there now in Kebano and Yannick. It’s a matter of biding his time.
“If we did carry on playing five at the back, he’s probably the best wing-back we’ve got, so it puts pressure on Bola to keep getting his finger out.”
How well do you remember Middlesbrough's season so far?
As things stand, Johnson’s current contract with Middlesbrough is set to expire at the end of this season, with the winger having scored three goals and provided four assists in 27 league appearances during the current campaign.
I think this is good man-management from Warnock in fairness.
It can be easy for players to get down-hearted when they lose their place in the side, as has happened for Johnson here.
However, Warnock’s comments make it clear that he is far from out of the picture at the club, and ought to serve as an extra motivating factor for him to work his way back into the side, and make an impact.
Indeed, given his current contract at the club, that is something he will no doubt be desperate to do, in order to give himself the best chance of earning a new deal either with ‘Boro or elsewhere come the end of the season.