Last week it was confirmed that Garry Monk would be the new Middlesbrough manager.
The former Leeds United and Swansea City boss was handed a three-year contract by the North East club.
The 38-year-old will now have all summer to assess his current squad and I’ve picked out five players who I think Monk should give a chance.
5. Christian Stuani:
A player that divides opinion amongst Boro fans.
He scored the crucial goal which ultimately got Boro promoted in the 15/16 season, but it’s fair to say last season he didn’t exactly have the best year.
Four goals in all competitions, two vs Sunderland on the second game of the season and then two more against West Ham, one at home and one away, not a particularly impressive return.
Spending the majority of his time on the right-wing Stuani looks comfortable, but unspectacular. Many Boro fans have called for Stuani to play upfront and Garry Monk may as well give him a chance to impress.
Stuani’s movement in the box is quite possibly the best at the club and his ability to hold up the ball is also brilliant.
If Stuani can re-capture his form that he found at the start of the 15/16 season in the early stages of pre-season then Monk should really give the Uruguayan international a chance come August.
4. Viktor Fischer:
Only just 23 years of age Viktor Fischer has a bright future ahead of him, but the one thing holding him back is his consistency.
Fischer only managed to play 649 minutes of football last season (16 appearances) yet still came away with three assists, a decent return for a player who didn’t get much game time.
All three assists came from corners, something Boro haven’t been able to convert from in recent years with Stewart Downing and Grant Leadbitter on set-piece duty, but if Fischer can get a good pre-season under his belt then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be starting for Boro and eventually take over set-piece duty himself.
3. Dael Fry:
After a successful summer with the England U20’s which saw the young Lions win the U20 World Cup Dael Fry will be coming back to Boro beaming with confidence.
Fry spent the first half of last season on loan at Rotherham, but only managed to play 10 games for The Millers.
On his return to Boro Fry played two games for the team, both in the FA Cup where he held his own when faced with the task of playing against Sergio Aguero, Boro may have lost the game against Man City 2-0, but Fry showed he is a very capable defender and deserving of a chance under the new manager.
With the futures of Gibson and Ayala being uncertain, Fry could well find himself being given a chance to impress come the start of the season, but only if he can get a good pre-season behind him.
At just 19 years old there’s a bright future ahead for Fry and he will be hoping to break into the first team this season.
2. Harry Chapman:
Like Fry, Chapman was also part of the England squad which won the U20 World Cup over the summer.
After spending the last 18 months on loan, gaining two promotions with Barnsley and Sheffield United, the attacking-midfielder will start to feel like he deserves a chance in the first team.
Capable of playing anywhere across the front four Chapman would add much-needed pace and flair to the side, something Boro missed desperately last season.
Chapman first caught the eye two seasons ago with the Boro youth squad which got to the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League and during the competition he scored three goals and registered eight assists in six games.
Last season with Sheffield United Chapman managed to score four goals while also registering two assists in just 459 minutes of competitive football. An injury mid-way through the season meant Chapman’s game time was limited, but in the short of amount of time he did receive on the pitch, he proved he was capable of playing at a higher level.
So after spending the last few seasons out on loan, Chapman will surely feel he now deserves a chance of breaking into Boro’s first team.
1. Connor Ripley:
After spending the last four seasons out on loan Connor Ripley will certainly feel he now deserves the chance to be Boro’s number one.
Last season while out on-loan at Oldham Ripley kept 18 clean sheets in 46 games beating a club set record and showed how much of an outstanding keeper he was.
At 24 years old Ripley is still young and still has at least another 10-15 years left in the game and will now be hoping to get an extended run in Boro’s first team.
There’s no reason why Ripley shouldn’t be given a chance in the Boro squad this season, with the current team being low on keepers after Brad Guzan was shown the door and with Victor Valdes is also set to leave the club come July 1st leaving only club favourite 39-year-old Dimi Konstanopoulos.
If Ripley gets an opportunity to impress in pre-season it’s highly likely that he’ll be Garry Monks first choice keeper this season.