Championship

Middlesbrough: George Saville frustrated at lack of starts this season

Middlesbrough: George Saville frustrated at lack of starts this season

Middlesbrough midfielder George Saville has said he is frustrated at his lack of gametime so far this season but is determined to make the most of any opportunities he gets.

Speaking to Teesside Live, the 26-year-old said that manager Jonathan Woodgate had not given him a full explanation as to his frequent absences from the starting line-up, but he expressed a willingness to fight for his place in Woodgate’s first choice XI.

Saville said: “I haven’t been starting as much as I want and it’s obviously frustrating for any player if you are not starting, but I’ll keep training hard and hopefully I will get a chance and a run in the team.” [via Teesside Live]

Saville has started only one of Middlesbrough’s first six Championship matches of the season and appeared as a substitute in three more, with cumulative game time of just 125 minutes. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]

By contrast, he featured in 34 Championship games for ‘Boro last season under Tony Pulis and made 28 starts, ending the campaign with four goals and one assist.

His profile on WhoScored.com cites crossing and defensive contributions among his noteworthy strengths, with Saville averaging 0.7 crosses, 1.9 successful tackles, 1.6 successful aerial duels and 0.8 interceptions per game last season.

He has posted a passing success rate of 84.2% so far this term, an improvement on last season’s 76.6% and the same as fellow ‘Boro central midfielder Adam Clayton. Both players have had a better passing accuracy rate than Paddy McNair and Lewis Wing, who have 81.8% and 79.4% respectively.

Wing has averaged one cross per game this season and McNair 0.8, slightly higher than Saville’s 2018/19 average, whereas Clayton has had just 0.4 crosses per game so far in 2019/20.

McNair’s tackling rate of 1.2 per game is inferior to Clayton’s 1.8 tackles and Wing’s 1.7, while Clayton and McNair have had the best interceptions rate with one each per game.

Also, Clayton (48.2), Wing (37.2) and McNair (36.7) have all averaged considerably more passes per game this season than Saville’s 27.3 average from 2018/19.

While Saville’s statistics from last season seem reasonable at face level, they look less impressive when compared with Middlesbrough’s other central midfielders from this term.

The Northern Ireland international will return to Teesside after starting both his country’s recent games against Luxembourg and Germany, but whether those performances will be enough to convince Woodgate to play him from the start against Reading next Saturday is unclear.

Saville’s frustration at being out of the starting line-up for most of the season so far is understandable, but the strong competition for midfield places could see him continuing to miss out on the first XI.

Middlesbrough fans, do you think Saville deserves to start more often for the team? Comment below with your views!

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