Middlesbrough Boss Pins Hopes On Key Star

Michael Carrick is expecting a fairly busy transfer window this summer, with plenty of outgoings and incomings set for Middlesbrough. One man who has earned the manager’s plaudits is Alex Bangura.

The Sierra Leone left-back has only played 14 matches in the Championship this season, with as few as six starts. Carrick expects Bangura to step up next year and show a determination to plant his first team spot ahead of another tough Championship season. The 24-year-old joined the North East side in September 2023, following a Deadline Day switch from Dutch outfit SC Cambuur.

Healthy competition and an unfortunate campaign of injuries have been the main problems keeping Bangura out of the starting squad. Leicester City loanee, Luke Thomas and former Silkeborg IF defender, Lukas Engel have mostly been the preferred options. The Sierra Leone international has had to settle with minutes from the bench this season, but the ex-Manchester United midfielder has big plans for Bangura.

A late surge of good results has not been enough to mask Boro’s underwhelming campaign, considering their expectations at the start of the season. The Teeside club finished eighth, which is a slight setback from the trajectory that was set the previous season under Carrick. With the notable sale of Morgan Rogers to Aston Villa, and the expiration of Ryan Giles, Rodrigo Muniz, Alex Mowatt, Zack Steffen, Cameron Archer and Aaron Ramsey’s loan deals, some leeway can be given this season.

Carrick’s interview with the Northern Echo has suggested that Bangura can expect a bigger part to play next year and will be urged to translate what he has learned from the sidelines to the pitch.

“He [Bangura] will no doubt be a little frustrated with how his first season has gone thanks to injuries. When you think about the inconsistency of our team throughout the season because of injuries, Alex will have been frustrated at times.

“I’m sure he will be better from the experience. He understands us now, he has lived here for coming up to a year now as well. He understands his team-mates now, understands us and knows how we play.

“He knows what the league is all about now, so he’ll definitely be better for the experience. As challenging and as tough as it has been for him, I’m sure he will be better for it next season.”

Writer’s View

Bangura was a sought-after player in the window that Boro snapped him up. His pace and ability to recover from counter attacks offers a very unique profile for Carrick’s side. This year, despite feeling underwhelming for the 24-year-old, could offer the perfect redemption for a starting left-back spot.

A solid pre-season, getting to grips with the team’s style and tactical model, could put Bangura on a pedestal and give him an opportunity to impress his employer ahead of an intriguing second division campaign.

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