Middlesbrough v Hull City: Michael Carrick praises Alex Mowatt as Liam Rosenior tries to plug attacking gaps

Michael Carrick says it was no surprise to see Alex Mowatt come to the fore as injuries start to bite Middlesbrough's squad but he insisted the midfielder's involvement is not a sign that Dan Barlaser is out of favour.

Carrick’s opposite number at the Riverside on Wednesday, Hull City's Liam Rosenior, must be envious at hearing him having to defend leaving good players out as he wrestles with an even bigger spate of injuries.

When left winger Aaron Ramsey picked up the first-half injury against Norwich City which saw him added to a list featuring Riley McGree, Dael Fry and later in the evening Marcuss Forss, Carrick made the surprising choice to bring on former Leeds United and Barnsley central midfielder Mowatt and move Hayden Hackney wide.

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It worked a treat with West Browmich Albion loanee Mowatt instrumental in Boro turning a 1-0 lead into a 5-1 one. Now he will be hoping to make his first start for Carrick at home to Hull City on Wednesday, which would be another blow to January signing Barlaser.

STAR TURN: Middlesbrough midfielder Alex MowattSTAR TURN: Middlesbrough midfielder Alex Mowatt
STAR TURN: Middlesbrough midfielder Alex Mowatt

"I was impressed but wasn't surprised because over a period of time as I keep saying to you the boys have trained so well and how good a group it is," said Carrick of Mowatt's performance.

"He's kept himself at a really high level and deserves the performance and the praise because he played terrifically well.

"It's not easy, especially with the weather conditions, to come into a game like that, but I thought he was terrific.

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"As much as we can say to the squad they'll get their chance, they have to be ready, it's not always easy so credit to Alex and the other boys who maybe haven't had as much as they'd have liked, the way they've trained and applied themselves and supported the boys – even the ones in their positions.

FIT AGAIN: Hull City's Ryan Longman picked up a dead leg against MillwallFIT AGAIN: Hull City's Ryan Longman picked up a dead leg against Millwall
FIT AGAIN: Hull City's Ryan Longman picked up a dead leg against Millwall

"Otherwise you wouldn't be able to come on and do what Alex did the other night, it's impossible. If you're not keeping yourself at that level you can't expect to suddenly spiked when you're called upon.

"So in terms of his character and attitude and professionalism, I can't fault Alex one bit."

Signed from Rotherham United in January, deep-lying playmaker Barlaser's only start came at home to Queens Park Rangers in February.

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"That doesn't mean anyone is out of favour," insisted Carrick. "We brought Dan to the club because we really like him as a player. He's got fantastic attributes and he's been fantastic around the group, he really has been.

"He's desperate to play and so he should be. There will be games that he plays.

"I'm fully behind him and fully trust him. I see him every day working and I know what he's capable of doing.

"It's not an easy decision when you have to pick between good players but that's why we're here and hopefully we make the right calls and everyone has a part to play."

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Rosenior recently joked "We don't need strikers, we work it out as we go," and just as well because Oscar Estupinan, Aaron Connolly and Benjamin Tetteh remain on the sidelines, although winger Ryan Longman – who has filled in at centre-forward – is back from a dead leg.

Defensively, Alfie Jones, Tobias Figueiredo, Cyrus Christie and Lewie Coyle are all injured, although the latter will play regardless of his rib problem.

"It's Lewie Coyle, he's a warrior," explained Rosenior.

Last six games: Middlesbrough WDLLWD; Hull City DWDDDLReferee: A Davies (Hampshire)Last time: Middlesbrough 0 Hull City 1, April 9, 2022, Championship