It is now or never for Middlesbrough and their hopes of securing a play-off place in the Championship.
Tony Pulis’ side are currently seventh in the league standings but are level of points with Derby County and know that if they can win their final two matches against Reading and Rotherham United, they may be able to extend their season past the 46-game mark.
Although the Smoggies will be confident of securing maximum points against a pair of teams who are both at threat of being relegated to the third tier, it is inevitable that one player, in particular, will have to be at his very best over the next week.
By far the most influential character at the Riverside Stadium, Darren Randolph has been nothing short of sensational for Middlesbrough this season with his outstanding level of consistency earning him a deserved place in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Championship Team of the Year (via Sky Sports).
The Republic of Ireland international has kept a remarkable total of 19 clean sheets in 44 appearances for his side this season which has only been bettered by Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson (20).
However, whereas the Blades ‘keeper has played in a side boasting the likes of Billy Sharp, David McGoldrick and Oliver Norwood, it could be argued that Randolph is the most important player for Middlesbrough as, without him, they would be nowhere the play-off places.
Therefore, given the impact that the 31-year-old has made since joining from West Ham United in 2017, it is imperative that Pulis does everything in his power to keep him at the club next season.
Despite being contracted until 2021, the £4.05m-rated shot-stopper (via Transfermarkt) could be the subject of considerable interest in the summer due to his stunning performances for Middlesbrough and may have his head turned if his side miss out on the play-offs.
With the Smoggies’ future heavily reliant on whether Randolph stays at the club, it may be beneficial for Pulis to deter interest from elsewhere by offering him an extension to his current deal at the end of the season.
What do you think Smoggies fans? How important is it to keep Randolph at the Riverside in the summer? Would you still be in play-off contention without his contributions? Let us know below.
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