AFTER watching Adam Reach impress in his first league start of the season on Saturday, Aitor Karanka has revealed Middlesbrough’s young players will be given more chances to cement their places in his first-team next season.
Reach was a surprise inclusion on the team sheet for the 3-1 win over Barnsley at the weekend having returned from a loan spell at Bradford City last week.
Karanka was informed the 21-year-old was eligible to play in Boro’s final two games of the season and he produced an impressive performance that could keep him in the starting XI for their last game at Yeovil this weekend.
Operating on the left, Reach was a prominent figure for the Teessiders on Saturday and he joins the likes of Ben Gibson, Luke Williams and Curtis Main who have all played their roles under Karanka.
After his appointment last November, a number of Boro’s young players were sent out on loan to grant the Spaniard’s wish to work with a smaller squad and the temporary departures raised concerns that the club’s successful youth academy might suffer if the head coach chose to look abroad in the summer transfer window.
However, Boro have already taken up the option for an extra year on Richie Smallwood’s contract with the 23-year-old having been at the forefront of Rotherham United’s promotion charge in League One and Karanka admitted it was likely supporters will see more of Reach and Co next season.
“I like him (Reach),” the Boro head coach said. “He’s young, powerful, and a good player. I know he can perform but it was good for him to play with the first team. In the future I think he can be with us but he needs to keep improving. He is a player that I like.
“The club said we had a chance to play him in the last two games. The best way to get to know players is by watching them on the pitch. It was the same with Luke Williams.
“I think we will see more of them next season. They are young players with character, they are from here and it is good for everybody to have them around the first team.”
Karanka wasn’t the only one signing Reach’s praises either. Danny Graham, who scored his fifth goal since rejoining Boro in January believes the Chester-le-Street youngster has a bright future ahead of him.
“I thought he was brilliant,” Graham said. “He’s been out on loan. He came in on Thursday and he’s been a breath of fresh air.
“He was great, he was one of our best players out there and I think he deserved to get man-of-the -match. For a young lad who has been out on loan to come back and be thrown in straight away, he did ever so well and it looks like he’s got a bright future.”
Once Saturday’s final game is out the way, Karanka will turn his attentions to summer recruitment, while a number of decisions will also have to be made regarding the club’s loan players.
That includes Jozsef Varga, who was brought in by Tony Mowbray on a season-long loan last summer.
Varga’s parent club, Debrechen, have reportedly announced that Boro have until May 20 to decide whether they want to keep the 25-year-old.
Varga has spent most of the season playing right-back – although he has also featured in central midfield - and he has been one of Middlesbrough’s most consistent performers.
But with two years left on his deal at Debrecen, Boro have yet to confirm whether they will be looking to sign him on a permanent basis and they have until later this month to decide.