For many years, Middlesbrough’s famed Rockliffe Park academy has consistently produced graduates that have gone on to play in the Premier League either for Boro or another top flight side, with the club benefiting financially on several occasions when selling on home-grown talent.
This season, one Rockliffe Park graduate will be looking to join the likes of Ben Gibson, Stewart Downing, Lee Cattermole and Chris Brunt in having progressed to the Premier League during their career.
Young centre back Dael Fry is that particular graduate, having made his first team debut for Boro in a League Cup game back in the 2015/2016 season, Fry is now seeking to impress potential Premier League suitors and maybe even the England manager Gareth Southgate, with the youngster having appeared at under 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 level for his country so far.
Naturally, it is Fry’s style of play which has caught the attentions of Premier League sides, with the 22-year-old defender possessing the ability to bring the ball out from the back by either driving forward whilst in possession or by playing key passes that help to bypass the oppositions midfield.
This helps Fry to fit comfortably into Jonathan Woodgate’s style of possession football, which requires all his players to be comfortable when they have the ball at their feet.
This is a trait which Fry has greatly improved upon over the years with the young defender having displayed great versatility when playing left back, right back and occasionally in holding midfield during his his career so far, all positions that allow a player more touches of the ball.
His composure on the ball is clear to see, with the defender currently averaging 44 passes a game this season.
This will come to no surprise for many regular spectators of Boro, with the team as a whole averaging 53% possession a game, which puts them amongst the best in the Championship for statistics concerning ball possession.
Woodgate also encourages his side to not defend aggressively when out of possession, as he much prefers his side to organise themselves into positions from which they can make interceptions as the opposition’s attack progresses to the final third of the field.
With Fry also having the opportunity to train with the England Senior side back in 2016, it will surely only be a matter of time before the talented youngster makes the step up to English football’s top flight.