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Grant Hall isn't perfect, but he's just what Middlesbrough need right now
Thursday, 18th Feb 2021 12:25 by Phil Spencer

Middlesbrough's 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town was massive for Neil Warnock and his squad, but one man needed it more than most.

Grant Hall's time with the club has hardly gone to plan since joining on a free transfer from Queens Park Rangers over the summer.

After starting Middlesbrough's first four matches of the season it seemed that Hall was set to be a mainstay in the defensive line but unfortunately Lady Luck had other ideas.

Injury woe is nothing new for Grant Hall.

I followed his career closely during my time covering QPR and even had the pleasure of speaking to him on numerous occasions.

Most of those conversations took place on the road to recovery with a persistent tendon injury stopping him from showing supporters his undoubted quality.

After a full campaign in 2019-20 a move to the Riverside Stadium was supposed to be the fresh start that he needed, but that familiar issue looks set to follow him.

Seeing the 29-year-old put in such a solid performance against Huddersfield was hugely encouraging for supporters who have been crying out for a natural centre-back to be named in the absence of Dael Fry.

Hall's return is a major boost for Neil Warnock but it's vital that we manage him accordingly.

Any supporter who thinks that Hall can now be an ever-present in the side needs to take a closer look at his track record over recent seasons.

To expect that the defender's body will be able to cope with three matches in a week between now and May is both naive and frankly, irresponsible.

Warnock loves to keep a largely consistent side from game-to-game but with Hall he'll need to be a little bit more pragmatic with his approach.

Dael Fry and Paddy McNair have been part of the furniture in Middlesbrough's defence while Hall has been injured, and that's unlikely to change.

But with Fry and McNair entering 'the red zone' in terms of susceptibility to injuries during that time, Warnock will be delighted to have Hall back in contention.

Until Hall can build up his fitness to the point where he can play every minute of every match it's important that his game time is managed closely.

That may mean affording him the opportunity to slot in to replace Fry or McNair when injured - or even just at a point where they need a rest.

It is also a valuable option as far as midfield options are concerned.

With Jonny Howson, George Saville and Sam Morsy being the only genuine options in central midfield the option of Hall could free up McNair to slot into the middle of the park when required.

Grant Hall might not be the player that Neil Warnock can build the team around but he's certainly a crucial option - who if managed properly - can be a more than adequate squad option.

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