Breaking: Middlesbrough pushing to sign new midfielder amid Jonny Howson’s crucial role

Breaking: Middlesbrough pushing to sign new midfielder amid Jonny Howson’s crucial role

MIDDLESBROUGH are in the market for a new central midfielder this summer – but don’t be fooled into thinking that could mean Jonny Howson’s impact will wane next term.

Howson may have turned 36 this week, and as head coach Michael Carrick has stated, aging will eventually catch up with the midfielder. But that time has not yet arrived, as the former Leeds and Norwich player demonstrated in the most recent season.

The skipper’s contract was set to expire this summer, but a new deal was necessary at the end of the season as he remains essential to Boro. It was signed on the eve of the final-day victory over Watford, and Howson was serenaded by fans the next day. He recognizes and enjoys his popularity in the stands.

Teesside’s objective this summer is to strengthen their midfield. Boro decided not to make Lewis O’Brien’s loan from Nottingham Forest permanent, with the coaching and recruitment teams looking for a new sort of midfielder. Boro want to make an early breakthrough on that front, with any fresh additions expected to enhance a squad that already contains Howson, Hayden Hackney, who will be completely healthy for the start of pre-season, and Dan Barlaser. Boro also have Law McCabe, who had a breakthrough season and earned his first appearance for his hometown club on the final day, and was nominated to England’s Under-18s squad alongside colleague Ajay Matthews.

Carrick will have options and variety in his midfield next season, allowing him to carefully supervise Howson if necessary. However, all evidence points to the seasoned midfielder returning to a central and leading role for Boro next season. And his importance and influence extend beyond the pitch.

“You run out of ways to praise Jonny really,” added Carrick, who was overjoyed when Howson signed a new deal at the end of the season.

“Of course, there will be times when he is unable to play every minute of every game. I’m not saying we’re there yet, by any means, because he’s still having a significant impact. That’s just something we have to deal with regardless.

“But in terms of his presence, impact, experience, and how he conducts himself, the decision (to renew his contract) was obvious.”

“He has a great impact on the young players who come through and just plays a huge role in the culture we’re building at the club; he exemplifies that.

“We were relieved that he is fit and healthy enough to stay, because that is something that some athletes lose. We’re thrilled to have him around for another year.

Carrick will also be pleased to have a fully fit Hackney back in his squad for the start of preseason. The Teessider missed the majority of the most recent season due to injury, including the final two-and-a-half months with a knee condition.

The head coach recently stated, “There was no point in trying to rush him at the end of the season.” He’ll be fine, and there will be no issues at the start of preseason.”

The future of O’Brien remains unclear after his Middlesbrough exit and Nottingham Forest return. The former Huddersfield man isn’t expected to be part of Nuno Espirito Santo’s plans at the City Ground. Sheffield United and Preston have been linked.

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