West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough: Top prospect Hayden Coulson reaps Boro reward

Impressive: Hayden Coulson, left. Picture: Getty Images
Impressive: Hayden Coulson, left. Picture: Getty Images
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Less than 24 hours after being praised for his role in Middlesbrough’s Boxing Day win over Huddersfield Town, one of their bright young prospects has signed a new deal.

Academy graduate Hayden Coulson, 21, has signed a contract that keeps him at the club until the summer of 2023, after emerging as part of Boro’s first-team picture under Jonathan Woodgate.

In identifying players for their part in the 1-0 win over Huddersfield, Woodgate singled out a young man who joined the club’s academy as a 21-year-old.

“Hayden Coulson has done well so he stays in the team even though I brought in Marc Bola (same position),” said Woodgate, after a win that took Boro six points clear of the bottom three.

Then yesterday, when announcing Coulson’s contract, Woodgate said: “I’ve always had a lot of belief in Hayden, he did really well in pre-season and has taken his chance with the first team.

“He’s an example to the young players in our Academy and we believe he has a great future.”

Middlesbrough’s recent upturn in form – 10 points from their last five games – will be put to the test at Championship leaders West Brom tomorrow, even if the Baggies have dropped short of their early-season pace.

West Brom have taken six points from their last four games, including a draw at Barnsley on Thursday which left manager Slavan Bilic demanding better ball-retention from his players.

“What have we learned,” mused Bilic at Oakwell, “not to give the ball away so many times.

“Barnsley press, but everybody is pressing nowadays. We shouldn’t be surprised by that.

“Normally, we are glad when teams press because that leaves them open and we want them to be open. But we have to keep the ball.”