Middlesbrough find themselves on an upward trajectory at the moment, with Chris Wilder bringing a sense of real optimism to the Riverside Stadium since taking charge in November.
Boro are charging towards the play-off positions under the stewardship of the former Sheffield United boss and they now sit just a point from the much-desired top six positions.
Registering 17 points in eight games under Wilder, Middlesbrough are certainly showing promotion form, and given his experience of winning promotion from this division, fans can be confident that when things get tough, Boro will have what it takes.
This January transfer window gives Wilder his first chance to shape the squad the way he likes, and whilst he has done an incredible job already, there is a real opportunity for Middlesbrough to emerge even more dominant when the month comes to an end.
Quiz: Can you name which club Middlesbrough signed these 28 midfielders from?
One player who the Teessiders have been linked with a January move for is MK Dons midfielder Matt O’Riley, as per a Sky Sports update (live transfer blog, 31.12.21, 15.16).
The report suggests that Barnsley, Huddersfield Town and Swansea City are also in the running for the exciting and versatile midfielder.
Boro should strengthen their interest in the 21-year-old as he is a player who has the ability and confidence to seamlessly adapt to Championship level football, as he is proving to be a level above in the tier below.
Possessing an excellent technical ability, cutting edge and goal threat, O’Riley has shone when in more advanced midfield positions this season, whilst he has been more than competent in deeper midfield roles.
MK Dons’ playing style focuses on patient build-up play before a trigger will burst them into life.
This domination of possession and intelligence of when to break the midfield and defensive lines certainly is something that O’Riley has been an integral part of, and this would very much bode well for him in the Championship.
Given his age, ability and confidence, there is also scope for O’Riley to emerge as a Premier League star in the future, which makes an early capture now a rather rewarding one for the Teessiders.