Middlesbrough v Derby: Challenge laid down for Riley McGree

Chris Wilder praised Riley McGree to the hilt yesterday, then told the midfielder he will not be handed his Middlesbrough debut on a plate.

Twenty-six days after joining from Major League Soccer side FC Charlotte, the 23-year-old was in a Boro squad for the first time at Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday but did not make it onto the pitch in the 2-2 draw.

He will be hoping to put that right against Derby County this afternoon but manager Wilder has warned it will be difficult.

“We’ve bought a really good player – value for money, great age, great attributes that fit into the way we play, technically good enough, athletically good enough and from a mentality point of view that Aussie winning mentality,” said the former Halifax Town and Sheffield United manager.

Boro's manager Chris Wilder. Picture: Tony Johnson

But asked if he was looking how to fit McGree into his team, he replied: “It’s not my job to get him in the starting XI, it’s his job to get in the starting XI.

“Riley’s got to put pressure on the people in front of him. If you’ve got a good group and there’s fierce competition in the right way, there’s no downside.

“If it opens up for Riley, a really good player’s going to get in the team.”

Tensions between the clubs might have eased somewhat after yesterday’s announcement of “an accord” over Boro’s legal claim against the Rams.

The Teessiders’ compensation claim after missing out on 2018-19 promotion behind a Derby team which broke financial rules was a major obstacle to the administrators’ attempts to sell the club, and a source of anger for fans so although the details remain private, the clubs have successfully reached agreement before doing battle on the field.

Boro’s March 1 FA Cup fifth-round tie against Tottenham Hotspur will be live on BBC One.