This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Middlesbrough are said to be interested in a deal to sign Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane according to TEAMtalk.
Hourihane has struggled for consistent game time with Aston Villa this season, and has seemingly fallen down the pecking order in Dean Smith’s plans at this moment in time.
The Irishman has made 150 appearances in total for Villa, who are currently sat tenth in the Premier League table, after a strong start to this year’s campaign.
A move to the Riverside could be tempting for Hourihane, with Neil Warnock’s side currently sat seventh in the Championship table, and just four points adrift of the play-off positions.
But would Hourihane be a good addition to the Middlesbrough squad this month?
There’s no doubt that Conor Hourihane is a player who would fit in very well under Neil Warnock.
His experience, work rate and combative nature make him a player that would slot seamlessly into Middlesbrough’s midfield and so from that point of view he would be a good fit. But I don’t think that signing a midfielder is a priority.
The Teessiders are pretty well-stocked in the middle of the park already and so unless they’re planning on offloading someone I’m not entirely sure where he would fit.
For me Middlesbrough need to focus on signing one of two offensive players, and so while the signing of Hourihane would be a shrewd move, it certainly isn’t the priority.
I think he would be a sound addition to Warnock’s squad, yes.
He is proven at Championship level and will be keen to get his career back on track after falling out of favour at Villa under Dean Smith.
It would be the type of player that Boro need as he would add that extra creative guile for the team in the centre of the park, whilst he has also shown in the past that he can score goals from midfield.
If he comes in this month, it could be the signing that makes all the difference for Middlesbrough as they seek to complete a long awaited return to the Premier League after several years away.
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Hourihane would be a superb acquisition for most Championship teams, and Middlesbrough are a team that he would slot into quite nicely.
Boro’s usual midfield trio sees Sam Morsy as the holding player and Jonny Howson and George Saville as the runners, and on the left of a three-man midfield at the Riverside you could certainly see Hourihane getting a lot of goals.
The Ireland international is deadly from distance and could add five to 10 goals a season to Neil Warnock’s team, but he would also provide a danger from set-pieces which could get Dael Fry and Paddy McNair among the goals.
I imagine that Middlesbrough will have strong competition for Hourihane’s signature, but I could certainly see him flourishing on Teesside.