Young stars Boro's future but today not day to play; PULIS PRAISE FOR ACADEMY.
TONY Pulis has been singing the praises of Middlesbrough's Academy and said Dael Fry and Lewis Wing have been the club's two outstanding young talents this season.
The Boro boss also revealed he would have fielded teenage defender Nathan Wood in today's fixture at Rotherham had there been nothing riding on the game.
I think to come and I think lad Woody to be a Tony Middlesbrough need to beat the Millers and hope Derby County slip up at West Brom to claim the sixth and final play-off place, so it's understandable Pulis will select his strongest possible starting XI at the New York Stadium (kickoff 12.30pm). That team will almost certainly include Wing and would have surely featured Fry at the back had the 21-year-old not suffered a torn hamstring in training last month.
And whatever the outcome, this season will go down as one where several members of the club's Academy and development squad have made first-team breakthroughs.
In addition to Fry, Wood became Boro's youngest ever senior player when he made his competitive debut in a Carabao Cup tie back in August aged 16 years and 74 days.
Another young talent, 20-year-old Marcus Tavernier, has featured in the squad regularly this season while Djed Spence (18), Stephen Walker (18) and Bilal Brahimi (19) all made their debuts. Connor Malley is another who's caught the eye and has been asked to train and travel with the first-team squad recently.
"I think Dael Fry and Lewis Wing have been two outstanding young talents at this club," said Pulis.
there's more from Tav, the big is going player Pulis "We've been lucky to get hold of them and keep them.
"I think there's more to come from Tav, and I think the big lad Woody is going to be a good player given the opportunity. "If we were in a different position now, if we'd already qualified (for the play-offs), he'd be playing on Sunday. There are some good kids coming through."
With Pulis insisting Boro have to break their 'boom and bust' cycle of spending and adapt a new, financially stable, recruitment model, the Academy can be a vital source of affordable playing talent.
The manager also thinks there are gems to be found in the Championship and lower leagues.
"I think we've done well with the Academy over the 18 months we've been here," he said.
"I think we've got closer to the Academy more. In training, we'll work with the Under-23s.
"We'll split the groups up, and the team that will play on Sunday will have at least 30 minutes playing against the Under-23s, so the Under-23s see us and see the standard. And we've done that for 18 months now.
"I'm sure it's improved individual players for when they have to come in. A lot of the young lads have trained with us so we've got players now who are getting integrated and seeing what it's all about at that level."
Pulis added: "I think there are players out there. One of my weaknesses is that I haven't been around the Championship for years and years, but I've seen players playing in the Championship where you'd say, 'I wouldn't mind having him.'.
* "I've seen players in League One where I'd be thinking, 'I'd have him.'"."
On the new philosophy, Pulis insisted: "You've got to put a line down and say, 'This is where we're going.'.
* "Supporters have a right to clamour for what they want. People around the fringes have a right to say what they want to do. But the main person is Steve (Gibson). Steve has to say, 'This is where we are.'"."
While Boro may not always have spent wisely, they have made some good signings and none better than Darren Randolph, who was named Player of the Season last week.
The Ireland keeper has made some outstanding saves and it was no surprise when he was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season recently.
"I think Darren is the best goalkeeper in the Championship without a question of a doubt," said Pulis.
I think there's more to come from Tav, and I think the big lad Woody is going to be a good player Tony Pulis Rotherham. riding on Walker (made
| Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis
| Young Teessiders trio Lewis Wing, Marcus Tavernier and Dael Fry. Right, Darren Randolph