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WBA V BORO

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WBA V BORO

SATURDAY 25/2/23 KO 3:0 PM

         The Hawthorns

 

And another football game comes along in the Championship hurdles. Everyone is excited as the race is starting to stretch out with the runners and riders urging to take their place within the Premiership gold stakes. A hard ride over a 46 game Championship season so close, yet still a lot to go for.

 

Middlesbrough are currently in third place with 57 points and have played 33 games. They are in hot pursuit of Sheffield United who are currently in second place with 61 points but have played a game less and are having a jittery time to keep on to their position. They have won just once in their past four league games and host fourth-placed Watford on Saturday. Their manager “By heck is bottom “ lost his bottle against the Boro and has since been charged by the F.A as I expected after his churlish and aggressive unsporting behaviour.

 

Meanwhile our own remarkable manager who replaced Wilder in October has overseen a remarkable transformation in Carrickature with 12 wins from 17 league matches in charge. It's no surprise therefore to discover that Michael Carrick has made a better start to his Middlesbrough career than any other manager in the club’s history including the revered Big Jack.

 

Since Michael Carrick has arrived, no other team in the Championship has picked up more points than Boro and no one has scored more goals than us. In unbelievable form and playing some excellent football, Carrick’s side have the momentum as things stand and you would back them to continue knocking on the door.

All parts are moving in the right direction whilst there is excellent levels of competition within the squad.I expect them to continue thriving even if injuries are picked up as our bench looks the strongest it has ever been in the Championship.

 

It’s quite easy to pick the team at the moment and there should be no surprises or big changes.

The defence is settled and the only choice is between Fry or Paddy at Centre Back. Smith goes from strength to strength and his vocal and encouraging support has helped the younger players around him. A lot of work has been expended on the training ground with Ryan Giles and his defensive work amd positioning has improved beyond all recognition.

 

Zac Steffen despite the odd slip !! has the full support of his manager and does exude confidence with his distribution in goal. A few clean sheets should be his target from now until the end of the season.

 

I expect Howson to return in midfield alongside Hackney and McGree to continue playing his roaming man of the match forward role. It will be disappointing for Barlaser if there are no changes in midfield  as his probing touches developed in the game last week and it was his intelligent ball into the box from which Akpom made his breakthrough goal on Saturday.

 

Whilst Ramsey also looked a little ring rusty I expect Marcus to Forss his way back into the team as he can score goals as well as providing goal scoring opportunities for Akpom.

 

Archer and Akpom will hopefully score the goals and perhaps we may even see Bernie’s league goal record of 20 beaten on Saturday!

 

It’s interesting to record that whilst Carrick is noted for being an accomplished midfield player throughout his career and can undoubtedly help the Boro midfield players he was the leading scorer for many years in Tyneside junior football. This attracted Boro to sign him as a seven year old as his father played for Boro reserves. Unfortunately Michael left to join Wallsend Boys but we have him now and the vultures are circling!

Carrick has admitted that he hasn’t helped Chuba to improve his goals scoring record this season other than telling him to make his presence felt and “stand big!” It’s certainly had an effect though…..

 

The championship table is hotting up and let’s not hedge our bets everyone as this game is a prickly one to forecast as we travel down to the Hawthorns. West Bromwich Albion who now find themselves having dropped out of the playoff positions with 45 points.

 

Corberan’s side are now winless in their last three Championship games. The result leaves West Brom in 10th place in the table, four points off sixth-placed Sunderland.

 

When Corberan arrived in October, he inspired Albion to three straight wins just before the World Cup break to leave the Baggies' campaign on a tantalising note. They picked up where they left off, of course, in December and into January with a run of nine wins in ten, all the while it being clear that those players - unaffected by World Cup call ups - had benefitted from an uninterrupted period of time to work under their new coach. But it’s all different now and nerves are starting to appear as the team tumbles down the table.

 

West Bromwich Albion fans have labelled the team’s defending against Watford as "woeful" as the Baggies suffered a blow to their play-off hopes. The side fell to a 3-2 defeat against the Hornets in what was a chaotic second half. WBA did fight back from behind on two occasions in the second 45 minutes. but still lost the game.

 

It is notable that the defeat against Watford has led to some fans writing off the team’s hopes of making the play-offs at the end of the season.

 

It was Sema who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute of the game, the Baggies responding through Townsend in the second half. Ismaila Sarr then put Watford ahead, before West Brom again hit back through Wallace. They were undone however by a 78th-minute deflected Ken Sema shot.

 

Albion looked far more fluent and cohesive right from the beginning of the second half, after a first 45 which Corberan himself described as 'wasted'. He was looking to accommodate Marc Albrighton on the right, and by deploying Wallace through the middle he was hoping for pace through the middle whenever Albion looked to counter.

 

It's not a coincidence, though, that Swift began to influence proceedings when shifted from his false playmaker role into a more central position, and Wallace too affected the game significantly on the right. With Albrighton still getting to grips with this side, and Grady Diangana's form constantly fluctuating, there remains plenty for Corberan to ponder in a creative sense.

 

So one has to ask is:

“Corbe“ one of the also “rans“ ?

 

It’s quite exciting to be looking up at an automatic promotion spot with all the players, supporters and management United In the 💭 dream.

 

So what’s your forecast for Saturday???

 

Me????

 

I’m going for Middlesbrough 3 the rest nil ! By the way that’s the Boro’s new name - Middlesbrough 3…..

 

OFB


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You turn your back for 10 minutes and OFB has dropped into the Blog a starter for the next  Boro game - away to WBA.  Let me guess, as I haven't read it yet: lots of praise for Boro's recent form, some praise for WBA's form and an acknowledgement that they have improved since Steve Bruce has left that club....and predictions of WBA 1- 3 Boro. 

Let's see!


   
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Another interesting opening article, thanks OFB.

 I see Shef Utd manager, Paul Heckingbottom, has been charged by the FA for comments made after the home defeat by Boro, he has until Thursday to respond.

Come on BORO.


   
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Another thing to be wary of:

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/middlesbrough-players-close-to-suspension-26293338

Come on BORO.


   
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OFB _- As expected, almost.  Which is, I suppose, to be expected as we see the same games and probably want the same thing at the end of the season. (I always used to worry when managers in the past would give an account of the game, such as suggesting we were magnificent or whatever, when it was obvious to everyone with a set of functioning eyes that the manager was clearly watching a different game to the rest of us).  Only the slight difference that you predict a clean sheet for a 0-3 away win whereas I suggested 1-3.  That is largely because I recognise WBA can score goals and we often give one away, but I'd LOVE a clean sheet.

But I'd be content with ANY win.  In fact from now to the end of the season it is about winning, winning, and winning, in the hope Boro can chase down Sheffield United.  The prize is so BIG and attainable.


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Many thanks once again, OFB.

Boro are on a five match winning streak after the defeat to Sunderland and this next fixture looks by far the most difficult of the next five, on paper at least.

With that in mind, and on the assumption that we’ll continue to put away the lesser sides, a draw against WBA wouldn’t be a bad result at all.

That said, there are fewer and fewer reasons to believe we won’t win. As Bob has mentioned, the host’s form has tailed off a little whilst we are riding high.

I do think West Brom will be a real threat and am a fan of Swift and Wallace at Championship level - two technically gifted players who combined to equalise against us at The Riverside at the start of the season.

However, Watford also showed that WBA can be exposed defensively and who better to make the most of that than us at the moment?

So I’ll go for a high scoring game, maybe 2-2 but why not 3-1 to the Boro again.


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It’s good to see Tommy Smith has signed a new 2 year extension to his contract:

https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2023/february/22/tommy-smith-signs-new-boro-contract/

Come on BORO.


jarkko
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@andy-r I second to that. This is our hardest game for a while and I would be happy with a draw like 1-1.

But I have a feeling we are on a run now. So I go for a 0-2 win with Leninhan and Hackney scoring. Up the Boro! 


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Posted by: @exmil

It’s good to see Tommy Smith has signed a new 2 year extension to his contract:

https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2023/february/22/tommy-smith-signs-new-boro-contract/

Come on BORO.

Reaction from Chuba, who's had his contract extended to 2024:

https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/chuba-akpom-sends-four-word-message-to-tommy-smith-after-new-middlesbrough-agreement/


Selwynoz
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Posted by: @exmil

It’s good to see Tommy Smith has signed a new 2 year extension to his contract:

https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/2023/february/22/tommy-smith-signs-new-boro-contract/

Come on BORO.

Agreed. The club really seems to be moving forward in the way that it is creating a positive and strong atmosphere within the playing group. The interview with Dan Barlaser confirms this. I’m not sure what to make of the Boyd-Muncie interview in which he reveals that he actually requested a release from his contract. The club seems to have done a very decent thing in giving up a good prospect but maybe he just wasn’t going to make it. Anyway, if the piece is to be believed he also loved being at MFC.

What do people think? I’d like to believe that MFC are a really decent club but it’s hard to know from the other side of the world.

UTB

 

 


   
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Ken Smith
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Despite Boro’s great recent form, there must be some concern about the number of possible suspensions especially in the final run-in. I’d still take the Blades as odds on to get automatic promotion. I don’t think much will change in the league table until after Easter, but that will be time when clubs, players and supporters will really become nervous. All Boro can do is to keep on winning and to that end I still feel that Boro need to win at the Hawthorns this weekend. Once a winning habit is broken, one often cannot anticipate where the next win will come. Often one defeat can suddenly result in a couple more, although as I have stated before I don’t anticipate much change in the league table before Easter. Do Boro need to win on Saturday? In my opinion they certainly do!

Fortunately Boro’s results at the Hawthorns in recent seasons are quite acceptable with 6 wins, 5 draws and only 4 defeats in their last 15 matches at the Hawthorns, but it wasn’t always so with only one point from 6 visits there in the late 70s and even more horrendous before the Second World War when Boro suffered 13 defeats in 20 encounters and only 2 wins during that period including 20 goals conceded in 5 consecutive matches. But as that was before I was born, I’m prepared to overlook that period.

I’m going for another 3 goals from Boro on Saturday and for Chuba Apkom to at least finish the season with a record haul of 30 goals which only Brian Clough regularly accomplished in my lifetime.


Ken Smith
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So sorry to hear of the death of John Motson, and deep and sincere condolences to his family and friends at this sad time. He was my favourite football commentator of all time following in the footsteps of Raymond Glendenning, Kenneth Wolstenholme and David Coleman during my lifetime. I’m hoping that some acknowledgment will be forthcoming at all of this weekend’s Premier League matches this weekend with at least a minute’s applause, although I would prefer one minute’s silence.

RIP Motty.

This post was modified 1 year ago 3 times by Ken Smith

   
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Belated thanks to OFB for another excellent read.

I agree with other posters that this will be a tough one and I would be more than happy with a point; we will need to play a lot better than we did in the first half last time out.

We have had our fair share of luck in recent games, with clear goal scoring opportunities not taken or mistakes capitalised upon by the opposition.  Sooner or later that luck will run out and I would not be surprised to see that happening to us on Saturday.  

If we are not at it from the off and the Baggies score first then we may not pull it back for once.  

Not sure about team selection as the three changes last time out all did ok.  Still feel we are better with the Howson/Hackney combination and Forss for me on the right. Also probably need Fry back for his height and heading ability. 

Baggies 1-1 Boro.  CoB 😎

 


   
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@ken - I think if the Boro can win at WBA and then continue winning, the pressure on Sheffield United will mount and, of course, the Blades are still involved in the FA Cup. They have lost two games in a row, one of them the home "six pointer" against Boro.  I agree with you that any team would want to maintain a winning run as long as possible as momentum is important.  It brings confidence but not, I hope, under Michael Carrick's leadership, complacency. Boro's team was a long way behind a promotion place but that gap is being slimmed down.  I remember Boro coming from a long way back in the promotion season in the 1960s leading to the final 4-1 win over Oxford United to secure a return to Division Two. And Nottingham Forest came from a long way back in the Chapionship last season.  It CAN be done, which is not to say it WILL be done.  My money will stay in my back pocket rather than the Bookies'.

I like your confidence about Akpom getting 30 goals this season.  I'd like to see that! If he DID score 30+, that would go a long way to getting the team up into 2nd position, especially with Archer, McGree and Forss chipping in with their contributions.

As to Motty - I was very sad to hear about his death.  Only 77 which doesn't seem any great age these days. I remember being in the school hall, probably at about the time of "Mock A-Levels"  as it was in February 1972, and for some reason at SWT the staff (maybe the Head) had allowed the big TV* to be wheeled in and a group of us not in lessons was allowed to watch the game, an FA Cup (3rd round?) replay.  It was played in the afternoon, in school time, because I guess non-league Hereford United didn't have suitable floodlights at that time. The game was played in a mudbath, and the 2 goals by Hereford are regularly replayed on FA Cup  programmes 51 years later, particularly the Ronnie Radford goal which I think he kicked from Shrewsbury.  Newcastle supporters will hope for a win at Wembley in the "Former Mickey Mouse Cup" this coming Sunday, but it won't take the memory away from that historic FA Cup defeat at the hands of Hereford.  That game was, of course, the making of John Motson and his trademark sheepskin coat, as it was his TV commentary debut.  What a game to start with!  RIP, Motty!

   * I am only guessing, but in the current age of flat screen 65 inch (plus) TVs, I bet the "large" TV was probably only 30 inches if that (at a time when at home we might have had an 18 - 19 inch TV). I have no idea WHY we were able to watch the match on a school afternoon on our school TV which was generally used for some science or maybe natural history prorammes made for schools.  It was on a wheeled stand so maybe the screen was on a shelf about 5 feet high so it could be seen by people sitting at the back on rows of seats, like in a theatre.  Of course the school hall WAS a theatre as it had a stage, with curtains, theatre lights etc at one end and a balcony with several rows of seat at the other end.  The only other time I can recall watching something on that TV was when Tyne Tees TV screened a live Rugby Union game one afternoon maybe 1968-1971, from Newcastle, where SWT played RGS. I have even less idea why TTTV would cover a school rugby game! It would hardly do so now.

This post was modified 1 year ago by Forever Dormo

   
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@k-p-in-spain - But I hope your prediction is wrong.  Boro's full official club name is now "Middlesbrough 3".

This post was modified 1 year ago by Forever Dormo

   
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@forever-dormo.  So do I, but despite being in Spain I still retain my Teesside “fear the worst” outlook based on years of following our beloved team! 😎


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@k-p-in-spain 

I think that we have every chance of turning them over, because our players are under orders to play to their strengths, and as our strengths are much superior to the opposition's, then it becomes pretty easy to guess the result, all of which is a result of, in order, the Manager, coaching, man management, team spirit, nerve, that would be resting three players at home, plus getting at least 14-15 players on the pitch each match, very important in my opinion, because they will all feel part of the win, and part of the team.     


   
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jarkko
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

And Nottingham Forest came from a long way back in the Chapionship last season.  It CAN be done, which is not to say it WILL be done. 

Do I remember correctly, that Reading came from the back of terrible start to the season, and won promotion. And by winning a lot of matches like we do now. And less than ten years ago?

So it can be done by Boro, too. UTB! 


   
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jarkko
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I did a bit of googling about Reading's last promotion:

The 2011–12 season was Reading Football Club's fourth consecutive season in the Championship since relegation from the Premier League in 2008. It was Brian McDermott's second full season in charge.

Despite a poor start, which saw them 23rd in the table at one point, Reading went on to win 17 of 23 games in the second half of the season, securing the Championship title and ensuring promotion back to the Premier League. McDermott was named the LMA Championship Manager of the Season for the achievement.

Sounds a bit like Boro this season. Up the Boro! 


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@jarkko - Fingers crossed....


   
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OFB, thanks for the intro for what I expect to be a hard battle against WBA whom I have not yet written off for a playoff place. If I had foam hands I would already have bitten through them in order to get to my finger nails which are now virtually non-existent. I doubted your 1 - 3 forecast for the Sheffield United game so I hope my doubt about your forecast for WBA proves to be similarly misplaced. As usual I will be pleased as long as we don't lose and delighted if we win.

As hotel prices seem to be increasing a lot I decided to book early for the three April home games and to hope my plans are not ruined by rail strikes or Sky TV. (I have paid extra for each night so that I am able to cancel rather than just rearrange the bookings if necessary.) It does mean that by the time I have paid for meals and rail fares I will have exceeded my "Boro budget" for the season which is another reason for us to get second place instead of having a home play off fixture. The only home match I will miss is against Stoke as the room only charge had already gone above £100 at the beginning of this month.

I will wait to renew my season card until after 11 March so that the credit card payment will only catch up with me in April as I am due gas and water bills in a few days time and I already owe than I have run up in the last 30 years!


Ken Smith
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@ Jarkko

And Boro did the same when in the Third Division in season 1966/67 when Stan Anderson was the manager. After opening the season with a 3-2 win at Colchester Boro then won only once more in the following 9 matches to slip down to 21st, including two heavy defeats 0-4 to QPR and 1-5 at Gillingham. Two 4-0 home wins against Swindon and Swansea in the space of two days somewhat alleviated the pressure but by early December Boro were still only 19th. A double over Darlington in two days at Christmas at last moved Boro up to midtable. An unbeaten run of 11 matches took Boro up to 5th, but 3 successive defeats at Grimsby and Leyton Orient and at home to Walsall pushed Boro back down to 7th. Then suddenly Boro found their mojo and were undefeated in their last 6 matches culminating in a final 4-1 win at home to Oxford United through a John O’Rourke hat trick before an official attendance of 39,683 saw Boro finish as runners-up to QPR. No playoffs in those days and only 2 points for a win, but Boro only reached that second position in the league on that final day.

Boro actually finished 12 points behind QPR but only one point ahead of Watford. A similar scenario to this season really with one club winning promotion by a street, whilst the next 5 clubs were only separated by 4 points.

This post was modified 1 year ago by Ken Smith

Ken Smith
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I think Boro are doing a disservice to Chuba Akpom in listing Boro players who have NOT scored 20 league goals in a season. Its list includes players who have NOT scored 20 league goals in a season, which debars the likes of Steve Bloomer, Ralph Birkett, Alf Common, Alan Foggon, John Hendrie, Arthur Horsefield, Billy Pease, Fabrizio Ravanelli, George Stobbart and Paul Wilkinson NONE of whom actually scored 20 LEAGUE goals in a season. When I talk about “20 goals a season strikers” I’m usually referring to league goals only. On that basis only George Camsell (4 times), Brian Clough (5 times), Micky Fenton (34 in season 1938/39), Jim McClelland (32 in season 1925/26), George Elliott (31 in season 1919/20) and Alan Peacock (31 in season 1962/63) have scored more than 30 league goals in a season. It is therefore unlikely that Akpom will exceed any of those players, but it does recognise that he is seriously one of the best strikers that Boro have ever produced.


jarkko
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@david-in-cumbria I really appreciate your efforts to support Boro in home matches. I hope your pains are rewarded with a promotion without play-offs!

As you mentioned the hotel prices, I have noted the same here in Finland, too. When I travel on business, the rates I see are usually 50% above the level before the Covid situation. 

When I am on Teesside - for same reasons as you - I have a few times stayed at Field View Bed and Breakfast in Yarm. They are situated next to the railway station so handy to reach by a direct train from the Manchester airport. 

Of course they are far from any restaurants with some walking to the centre of Yarm. But again, you would have a train connection to Boro to see the match. 

I just wanted to say this to you as an alternative, if your hotel prices go over your budget. But the the owner's husband is a Coventry supporters in here, which is unfortunate.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 1 year ago by jarkko

jarkko
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Reading the local newspaper HS from Helsinki today morning, there was an article about "our" Southgate.

There will be a play called Dear England and it will be played for the first time in the National Theatre, London (I presume it is not in a hospital, Powmill-Naemore) in June.

The play is inspired by Southgate's journey from the infamous penalty shootout in 1996 to the successful manager of the England national football team.

Unfortunately, the Finnish article does not mention how much is told about Gareth's life and career at the Boro. If there is someone reading  this blog in London, please try to see the play and report us in here, too.

Mind, Gareth is by far the most successful captain we have ever had at Boro. A true legend and and a former manager.  Up the Boro!


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@jarkko 

😁, indeed the National Theatre is not a hospital. That said, my wife would probably say that I was 'not well' if I went to the theatre to see a play about football. 🤪

This post was modified 1 year ago by Powmill-Naemore

Martin Bellamy
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Ken Smith
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Like me Michael Carrick doesn’t look at League tables, just carry on Boro accumulating as many points as you can. No concern about what other clubs are  doing, just carry on winning as many matches as possible seems to be his mantra. And why not indeed! Nothing much will change regarding the league table between now and Easter, Boro will still be either 3rd or possibly 2nd! The final placings will then be decided on the last 6 matches when perhaps a few surprising results might occur.


   
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I see Josh Coburn has hit a barren spell, although he has scored 9 in 21 appearances, the last 4 matches he has come off the bench and hasn’t scored since 7 January. I am not having a go at him, I just noticed he hadn’t been mentioned on here for quite a while, so I decided to have a look at how he was doing in league one with Bristol Rovers and hopefully he will pick up again soon.

Come on BORO.


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Posted by: @exmil

I see Josh Coburn has hit a barren spell, although he has scored 9 in 21 appearances, the last 4 matches he has come off the bench and hasn’t scored since 7 January. I am not having a go at him, I just noticed he hadn’t been mentioned on here for quite a while, so I decided to have a look at how he was doing in league one with Bristol Rovers and hopefully he will pick up again soon.

Come on BORO.

Rovers are having a bad patch and Coburn has been one of the casualties. 

Hopefully, like Hackney at Scunthorpe, this will do him some good because he is going to have to prove that he's mentally tough enough to come through it.

I suspect that if we don't get promoted this year that Coburn will come into the first team squad. If we do get promoted then I think we'll look to loan him out to a Championship club with the aim to see if he can cut it at that level. Same with Sol Brynn.

 


   
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