In Middlesbrough, Riley McGree has settled into a routine while Michael Carrick explains his early absence. 

In Middlesbrough, Riley McGree has settled into a routine while Michael Carrick explains his early absence.

Michael Carrick is delighted to see Riley McGree find form at an important time for Middlesbrough, with the forward playing key roles in Boro’s two recent wins.

McGree was excellent last weekend as Boro picked up their first league win of the season against Southampton, scoring an important equaliser in typical McGree fashion on the stroke of half-time. He was then one of four players retained in the starting line-up for the cup clash with Bradford, with the Australia international providing an assist in that win.
The 24-year-old is now a key player for Boro, particularly in attack where he’s now one of the longest-serving players in the squad. But after starting only two of Boro’s first six league games in disappointing start individually and collectively, Carrick is excited to see McGree find his form.
I think he’s found a good rhythm Riley,” Carrick said. “I don’t like the word comfortable in terms of performance, but I think he looks comfortable in terms of his timing and rhythm and seeing the pictures. He’s then had his success with goals and assists.

“It’s great to see Riley scoring and it’s something we know he’s definitely got in him. We’re not relying solely on Riley to do that, we want to see them spread across the group. But if someone does go and score a lot of goals for themselves then fantastic. Big goals in big moments are important, and Riley produced one for us just before half-time last week.
He is a big part of the group, and I said the same a couple of weeks ago when he hadn’t started a game or two. There was never a case of anything else other than finding a way to get him back, and he’s certainly been good this week.”
While Carrick didn’t elaborate too much, the suggestion from the Boro boss seems to be that McGree was struggling for form in the early weeks of the season. McGree’s only league starts prior to the draw at Sheffield Wednesday came in the opening game against Millwall and away to West Brom, both of which ended in defeat.

But McGree also scored twice and registered one assist in Boro’s two first two Carabao Cup ties at Huddersfield and Bolton, despite coming off the bench late in both to play a combined total of just 21 minutes. It led many fans to question why the Aussie playmaker wasn’t playing more.

And McGree has since backed up the calls for him to play more this week, as the Boro boss seemingly turned to more experienced heads against Southampton last weekend to end the seven-game winless start to the season. Carrick played down any significance of the lack of summer signings in the team that beat the Saints, and also suggests McGree’s re-emergence is more to do with finding his rhythm at a time where Boro needed him most.
We have a squad and we can’t pick everybody,” Carrick said when asked why McGree hadn’t been playing. “Riley was fit, but the boys were at different stages and it’s my job to make the big decisions and try and pick boys at the right time. He’s certainly coming into a good bit of form now.

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