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Sky Sports EFL pundit picks out one player at Middlesbrough that could be crucial to Chris Wilder

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Sky Sports EFL pundit David Prutton has suggested that Johnny Howson’s ability to slot into a back three could be crucial for Chris Wilder during his time in charge at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough have at times this season operated with a back three under Neil Warnock, as the experienced manager searched for a way to get the best out his available options. However, ultimately it proved not to be enough to earn the right results to keep him in his position and now Wilder takes on that task instead.

Wilder deployed a 3-5-2 formation to great effect for most of his time in charge of Sheffield United, with him giving the freedom to some of his centre-backs to get forwards in support of attacks when the Blades were in possession. That is something that could now be emulated at the Riverside.

Howson has been deployed in the back three by Warnock at times this season, and Wilder converted Chris Basham from more of a midfield player to a centre-back during his time in charge at Bramall Lane. Therefore, that could be something that the new Middlesbrough boss looks to keep from the Warnock era.

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Speaking on Sky Sports’ latest EFL podcast, Prutton has suggested that he feels Wilder has a major decision to make over Howson’s position. He also feels that the midfielder can do a good job in a back three for the new manager if he elects to keep him there.

He said: “I think the way that they set up, and we know that Chris isn’t completely and utterly married to 3-5-2, but that’s what brought him so much success at Sheffield United and the way that team lines up, all be it obviously with Johnny Howson playing as part of that back three which maybe as Johnny gets older, and I remember Johnny as a young lad at Leeds, but he’s still in terrific shape and a very fit footballer to get up and down that pitch, so whether you lose what Johnny brings to a midfield to get the experience at into the backline remains to be seen, so we’ll see from that.”

The verdict

Wilder is probably going to stick with the same sort of set up that got him success at Sheffield United, although there will have to be slight variations on that considering he is working with a squad that has different dynamics to the one he had built at Bramall Lane

Howson is someone that you could see Wilder really morphing into a quality centre-back in a back three, with Warnock having converted him into that position at times this season largely due to injury issues that Boro have been experiencing in defence.

If Wilder can get Howson performing in a similar way to Basham then Boro will have an excellent player on their hands and that would free up a midfield role for someone else to make their own within the squad.

There are major player and squad decisions ahead of Wilder in the next few weeks and we will know about his approach and the role of Howson after the international break when he names his first starting line-up.


ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Sky Sports EFL pundit picks out one player at Middlesbrough that could be crucial to Chris Wilder

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