At the start of Boro’s 2016/17 Premier League campaign, it seemed almost impossible that any youth team player would break into Aitor Karanka’s first team.
Yet after the disappointment of relegation back to the Championship and the appointment of new manager Garry Monk; players of the football club’s famous academy can now dream again of a breakthrough, into what should be a team challenging for promotion once again.
Indeed, we already know from Monk’s first press conference he intends to give youth a chance if they are “Good enough and ready enough”.
1. Dael Fry:
A name familiar to most fans. Dael Fry was the only ever notable breakthrough into Aitor Karanka’s squad.
However, fresh from World Cup triumph with England’s under 20’s side, the forthcoming season could be pivotal in the defenders development as a player.
Despite Fry bursting onto the scene in the first game of the 2016/17 promotion season with a solid performance in a 0-0 draw with Preston North End.
As the season progressed Fry found opportunities very limited although did, later feature in a run of defeats to Rotherham United and Charlton Athletic.
Fast forward to the start of the last Premier League campaign and young Fry was loaned out to the Millers, however, was recalled before January had even hit.
Ever since then Fry has only made one first-team appearance, during a 0-2 defeat to Manchester City in last year’s FA Cup.
Nevertheless, with the departure of Ben Gibson looking inevitable and the return of Calum Chambers to Arsenal, the Middlesbrough-born lad will be looking to establish himself as a mainstay in Garry Monk’s newly inherited squad.
2. Harry Chapman:
Another of England’s under 20 World Cup winning side would be young winger Harry Chapman.
Chapman first caught the eye of fans thanks to his spectacular solo goal at home to Torino in the under 19’s Champions League knock-out stages.
He then later won the under 21’s Premier League player of the month award in December for his performances during November 2015. Chapman would then join, at the time League ones Barnsley helping them win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and promotion via the play-offs.
He then returned to League 1 action a season later, signing for Sheffield United. Where he again impressed, most notably for scoring a first career hat-trick against Leyton Orient.
Despite injury Chapman also helped guide the Blades to the League one title and a second promotion in 2 years for the youngster.
The 19-year-old now faces the task of forcing his way into the clubs first team picture but you simply would not put it past him due to his new found experience. As well as his sharp technical ability.
3. Callum Cooke:
Next up is the first youngster to have not been part of the World Cup squad, although Cooke has already represented the three lions at various different age groups.
However, Cooke has yet to be given any sort of opportunity at his boyhood club. Similar to Chapman, Cooke alongside Fry was part of the under 19’s Champions League team which produced some magical moments for the young guns during Boro’s promotion season.
Not only this but once again like Chapman, Cooke impressed massively during his most recent loan period with Crewe Alexandra. The English-born midfielder netted 4 goals and gained 6 assists during only 17 appearances whilst on loan.
In one of, if not the best loan spells of any young player last season. Standing him in great stead for a potential chance at the beginning of the season. In what will be Garry Monk’s first pre-season as Middlesbrough FC manager.
4. Alex Pattison
Finally, we have 19-year-old Alex Pattison. The third midfielder of the 4 youth team players.
Ultimately, Pattison, baring Fry was one of the only other youngsters to get some sort of a chance with former manager and Spaniard Aitor Karanka.
The midfielder featured in last year’s pre-season games against the likes of Doncaster and York City. Impressing in both games, although mainly in a 0-2 away victory in which Pattison along with another ex-academy player, Stewart Downing scored in either half to give their hometown club a second victory in the 2016/17 pre-season campaign.
Pattison like Fry, Chapman and Cooke will be hoping he gets his chance to impress and potentially make his way into the squad for the first game of the season away at Wolverhampton Wanderers on the 5th of August. As Garry Monks men begin their first season back in the Football League.
Would you like to see youth players given more of a chance at Boro? If so, who would you introduce? Drop a comment below!