We brought you the exclusive on Wednesday afternoon that Middlesbrough are fighting off interest from Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers to keep the services of Dael Fry.
The 23-year-old centre back has been a mainstay of the Boro backline in Neil Warnock’s time at the club, and is worthy of interest from Premier League clubs as of his consistently strong performances in the top half of the second tier.
Middlesbrough are confident he will remain at the club beyond the 31st August transfer deadline, with them able to guarantee him regular first team action.
Boro travel to face Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Saturday in search of three points to put them back in the top six mix, with Fry’s services highly valued at the heart of defence alongside familiar partner Grant Hall.
Here, then, we take a look at ONE winner and ONE loser if the 23-year-old did go on to secure a Middlesbrough exit…
Winner: Nathan Wood
19-year-old centre back Wood would see his standing as a backup defender increased should there be one less player in his position at the club. Warnock has a tremendous record at developing centre backs and after a successful loan spell at Crewe Alexandra last term, keeping four clean sheets in 12 appearances, Wood is raring for more first team action.
He completed the match against Blackpool in the first round of League Cup alongside new player coach Sol Bamba, a brilliant learning experience, but is yet to feature in the 18 for a league match.
Paddy McNair, Anfernee Dijksteel and Marc Bola are all capable of deputising in a backline, more comfortably in a three, so the competition for places at the back is fierce at the Riverside. A Fry departure would take Wood a step closer to getting frequent first team opportunities.
Loser: Grant Hall
29-year-old centre back Hall has built an excellent understanding with Dael Fry in the Warnock era at Boro, and should his teammate depart the club that process would restart.
Hall would become the lead centre back at the club which brings greater expectation and responsibilities, in addition to that he would have to start from scratch in terms of establishing a relationship with his central defensive partner.
Having settled in nicely to a back four system, a Fry exit would most likely lead to Warnock switching to three at the back which would alter Hall’s familiar role. Hall and Fry compliment each other excellently for Middlesbrough, it is a combination whereby Hall may not find the same degree of success with any other partner.