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Middlesbrough column: Lewis Wing offers something truly unique to Neil Warnock
Saturday, 19th Dec 2020 21:21 by Phil Spencer

Middlesbrough are set to enjoy a cracking Christmas after securing a spot in the top six for the festive period.

Another typically strong team display by Neil Warnock's side was enough to see off Birmingham City with relative comfort in a 4-1 victory at St Andrews.

But while it's always appealing to write another piece hailing the newfound team spirit in the Boro camp, it's time to focus on the surprise man who led the side to victory.

Of course we're talking about Lewis Wing.

To say that this season has been frustrating for the midfielder is a huge understatement.

A first team regular in recent seasons, the 25 year-old has been limited to just two starts in the Championship.

But his two efforts against Birmingham City were vital to helping the club to a massive victory on the road.

You might think that this column is going to be preaching about how those two goals prove that Wing is the best thing sliced bread and can single-handedly lead Middlesbrough to promotion.

You'd be wrong because that would be a lie, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have something unique to offer.

Neil Warnock has settled on a proven formula in midfield that sees a trio of players work tirelessly, press hard and play a simple game that makes life incredibly difficult for the opposition.

Jonny Howson, George Saville and Sam Morsy have taken to those roles with real ease, but for Wing it hasn't come as easily.

The former Shildon lad has many qualities but his intensity off the ball, positioning and desire to close down opponents are not among them.

But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Warnock will stick to his formula until the day that he hangs up his managerial clipboard, but his usual approach will not work in every game.

Some clubs will handle it with ease, while in other matches Middlesbrough might need to offer something a tad more dynamic in the middle of the park if they're to break down the opponents.

That's where Wing comes into his own.

A player who is better-suited to a more offensive midfielder, Wing has the sort of attacking instinct that can cause real problems.

Playing a direct ball into the final third can put opponents under real pressure, while anyone who can find the back of the net with relative consistency from 30 yards is a talent that's worth keeping hold of.

He might not be a player who will start every match - being frank, I don't think that he should do under Neil Warnock.

But while some may say he's surplus to requirements and should be moved on, I'd say to think again.

The Championship season has a very long way to go and for Warnock it's vital that he has multiple options who can bring different things to the team when called upon.

Football is a puzzle and as they say, those who do the same thing time after time and expect different results are mad.

That's why Wing is a valuable member of Warnock's squad and should be relished as a player who could prove himself as a vital option as the second half of the season looms.

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