Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Who from the Current Boro Squad Will Make the Starting Line-Up?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Who from the Current Boro Squad Will Make the Starting Line-Up?

Article excerpt

WITH Viktor Fischer and Bernardo Espinosa signing for Middlesbrough and Marten de Roon in talks with the club, Aitor Karanka's squad for next season is taking shape.

And as more players are due to arrive, who will expect to be named in the starting XI on August 13, when Stoke City visit the Riverside for the opening Premier League fixture of the season? Gazette Boro Editor PHILIP TALLENTIRE has compiled a list of the candidates and whether they area a nailed on starter, face a battle for selection or potential candidates to go out on loan.

Keepers Dimi Konstantopoulos It looks like Boro will be bringing in a new keeper ahead of the season so Dimi Konstantopoulos faces a battle to retain his position as No1. That said, he's come through similar challenges before - Battle for selection Tomas Mejias Going into his third full season with Boro, the Spanish keeper looks no nearer emerging as Aitor Karanka's first choice goalie - Battle for selection Right backs Alex Baptiste Again, the search for a right-back means an intense battle for a starting place - Battle for selection Emilio Nsue The fact that Boro are actively looking to sign a right-back suggests Aitor Karanka wants several options to choose from in that position - Battle for selection Centre backs Dani Ayala Hard to see one of Boro's most improved and reliable defenders not starting against Stoke City on the opening day - Nailed on starter Bernardo Espinosa Signed on a free transfer from Sporting Gijon, the Colombian is recovering from a serious knee injury and won't be fit until October at the earliest - Battle for selection Dael Fry A hugely talented teenage defender who could be loaned out for a season in a bid to get regular first team football - Potential loan deal Ben Gibson The arrival of Bernardo Espinosa - who won't be fit until the autumn - gives Aitor Karanka long-term competition for places in the heart of the defence but Gibson's the man in possession - Nailed on starter Left backs George Friend Possibly the first name on the team sheet last season and there's no reason to suppose he won't be next season - Nailed on starter James Husband It's been a frustrating couple of years for Husband since his move from Doncaster. With Friend the undoubted first choice left-back, another loan deal must be on the cards - Potential loan deal Holding midfielders Adam Clayton Last season's Player of the Year will surely be guaranteed one of Boro's two defensive berths - Nailed on starter Julien De Sart Signed as one for the future, the Belgian midfielder is unlikely to be a first team regular next season but Aitor Karanka will be torn between keeping him for the bench or loaning him out - Potential loan deal Adam Forshaw Boro's unluckiest player. He would have walked into just about any other Championship team last season and faces another huge battle to unseat Adam Clayton or Grant Leadbitter or, if he signs, Martin de Roon, next season - Potential loan deal Grant Leadbitter The skipper will expect, and deserves, to be given a chance to prove he can be just as effective in the top flight as he was in the Championship. …

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