Michael Carrick believes that Josh Coburn is a new Middlesbrough signing as a result of his improvement.

Michael Carrick believes that Josh Coburn is a new Middlesbrough signing as a result of his improvement.

Michael Carrick says Josh Coburn has improved so much since returning from a loan spell this summer that he’s like a new signing for Middlesbrough.

Coburn spent last season on loan at Bristol Rovers and despite hoping to return and impress new Boro boss Carrick this summer, an early pre-season injury limited his chances to do that. It left Carrick contemplating loaning the 20-year-old out again this season.

And that’s something that would have happened had they managed to sign another striker in the recent transfer window, with a loan deal with Plymouth Argyle agreed. With no new striker arriving, however, Carrick opted to keep Coburn on Teesside and both reaped their rewards from that on Saturday.
After an excellent performance to help Boro to victory last weekend against Southampton, Coburn this time scored the decisive goal as Boro edged a five-goal thriller at Watford. It was a special moment for the Richmond striker, netting just in front of the travelling Boro fans who serenaded him after.

“I’m delighted for Josh,” Carrick said. “It’s a big moment for him and I’m sure the goal will do him the world of good. Being a local lad and coming through the academy, it’s great. It’s what he’ll have dreamed about for a long time. I think his performances over the last week have been really good, for what he’s given the team and how he’s stepped up.
He’s improving all the time, so it’s really encouraging. He’s improved an awful lot in the short space of time since we’ve started working with him. At the start of pre-season he missed three of four weeks through injury as well, so it was stop-start for him.

“But he’s worked hard and you can see him getting used to playing with a lot of the boys. Obviously he wasn’t here last season, so in some ways for us, he’s like a new signing. We’re grateful to have him and I’m really enjoying working with him. He’s a great character, honest as you can get and he certainly has quality to score goals.”

Goals are important for Boro this season after they lost a huge amount from their team at the end of last term. As well as loanees Ryan Giles, Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer who contributed many, they were forced to sell 29-goal striker Chuba Akpom as his contract ran down to its final year.
And while Carrick has plenty of belief in his 20-year-old prospect, he’s keen not to put unnecessary pressure on him by expecting him to fill the goals-shaped hole left by player departures this summer.
Carrick continued: “It’s not a one-man responsibility, and it’s certainly not all on Josh’s shoulders to score the goals to help the team be successful. We want to share them throughout the team, and Riley [McGree] has had a great week in terms of goals as well. Manu scored a good goal the other night too.
So it’s about sharing the goals rather than putting it all on one man’s shoulders. But I’ve no doubt Josh will have a big contribution this season. We’ll be patient with him because I don’t think it would be fair to pin it all on Josh. He’s learning the game still and developing, so we need to expect some ups and downs from him. But I’m really encouraged by what I’ve seen.”

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