Middlesbrough vs Birmingham City: 5 players who could dictate the game as Rooney faces Carrick

Before Birmingham City decided to replace John Eustace with Wayne Rooney, Middlesbrough’s clash with them was already shaping up to be an intriguing contest. The visiting team was sitting in 6th place in the Championship, thanks to their strong start under Eustace. However, the Blues made a managerial change to bring in Rooney, who is set to make his debut against his former teammate Michael Carrick.

Middlesbrough had a challenging start to the season, going winless in their first seven matches. However, they turned things around with four consecutive victories, climbing to 16th in the standings and resembling the team many had anticipated at the beginning of the season. The upcoming match promises excitement, but the question is, who will influence the game this weekend?

Isaiah Jones:

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Isaiah Jones, who had an inconsistent presence in Carrick’s Middlesbrough team early in the season, has been exceptional in recent wins against Cardiff City and Sunderland, particularly on the right side of the pitch. He has contributed with two goals and an assist in his last two appearances. In his current form, Jones is virtually irreplaceable and could be a key player against Birmingham City.

Siriki Dembele:

Siriki Dembele is the kind of player who can instantly seize control of any game. His direct dribbling and lightning pace on the wing pose a constant threat, and containing him will be crucial for Boro’s success. If Dembele finds his rhythm early, it could be a challenging day for Middlesbrough’s full-backs.

Hayden Hackney:

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Middlesbrough midfielder Hayden Hackney has arguably been the standout player for the club this season. His stock is rising with each passing week, and it seems like only a matter of time before a top-tier team takes notice. His composure, ball control, and willingness to take calculated risks in possession are vital for Carrick’s side when they advance up the pitch.

Dion Sanderson:

Dion Sanderson’s role in the Birmingham City team became increasingly important under Eustace, and he was appointed club captain after his permanent signing. Middlesbrough boasts some exciting and dynamic attacking players, so Sanderson will play a significant role in keeping them at bay. When he’s in form, he’s the kind of figure who can inspire his teammates and lead by example from the back.

Riley McGree:

It’s uncertain whether Riley McGree will be fit to play after missing the Sunderland match and withdrawing from the Australia squad. However, if he is fit, he will have an important role to play on the left side of the pitch. McGree has been one of the standout players of the season, and having him back in the lineup would be a significant boost for the team.

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