Championship

Middlesbrough: Dael Fry to play for ‘Boro under-23s tonight

Middlesbrough: Dael Fry to play for ‘Boro under-23s tonight

Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry is set to return to action tonight after four months out with the hamstring injury he incurred towards the end of last season.

The Northern Echo reported that the 21-year-old is expected to feature for the club’s under-23 side in tonight’s clash with Stoke City at Bishop Auckland.

According to The Northern Echo, the young centre-back could potentially make his return to the senior squad on Tuesday night for the visit of Wigan to the Riverside Stadium.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate told The Northern Echo that he will watch the under-23s tonight, before adding that he will not rush Fry back into action until he feels the time is right.

Fry had been a regular presence in Middlesbrough’s defence last season, playing 34 Championship games before tearing his hamstring in training in April, as reported by Teesside Live.

The 21-year-old has played 66 times so far for the ‘Boro first team, with more than half of those coming in the 2018/19 campaign.

He regularly showed his aerial ability from the centre-back position last season, winning 3.6 aerial duels per game.

He also displayed a propensity for coming out from defence with the ball, with a match average of 0.5 dribbles and 0.4 key passes. However, the accuracy of his passing has been a weak point, with a success rate of just 69.4% last term.

By comparison, the centre-back duo of Daniel Ayala and Ryan Shotton from the first two Championship games have posted passing accuracy rates of 73.1% and 75% respectively.

Ayala has also won 11 aerial duels in those two matches (5.5 per game), although Shotton has just four in total (two per game).

In terms of interceptions, Shotton has made six so far this season (three per game) and Ayala five (2.5 per game). Fry’s match average for interceptions last season was a mere 0.7.

Middlesbrough have conceded four goals in the last two matches with Ayala and Shotton as the centre-back pairing (two per game). In the 34 Championship matches that Fry played last season, ‘Boro let in just 30 goals, an average of 0.88 per game.

With Middlesbrough already conceding nearly 10% of last season’s total of 41 Championship goals inside the opening two matches of the current campaign, Fry’s impending return to action should be a welcome boost to their centre-back options.

Whether he will manage to supplant one of Ayala or Shotton is a pertinent question. Those two have been more dependable in possession than the 21-year-old was last term, as well as proving more adept at halting opposition attacks.

Given the sparsity of centre-back options in Woodgate’s squad, though, Fry’s return to full fitness cannot come soon enough.

Middlesbrough fans, how big a boost will it be to have Fry back in action? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

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