Former Liverpool academy star Ayala continues outstanding Middlesbrough form

Daniel Ayala put in another superb display for Middlesbrough at the weekend.

A former bright prospect at Liverpool, Daniel Ayala is playing for his fifth Championship side.

That includes loan and permanent spells in the division with Hull, Derby, Norwich City and Nottingham Forest, before settling at Middlesbrough.

He is now a key part of the defence, partnering Chelsea loanee Kenneth Omeruo at centre-back.

Ayala was absolutely key at the weekend, helping 'Boro stub out a resurgence from Fulham and end their impressive start under caretaker manager Kit Symons.

Middlesbrough won the game 2-0, with goals from Adam Reach and Albert Adomah, but it was the Spanish defender who was key in the home side keeping a clean sheet.

Ayala cleared one goal-bound effort off the line, and made seven interceptions, continuing a run of form which makes him one of the Championship's top young defenders.

The centre-back made three tackles and even created one goalscoring chance, as he helped shut out £11 million forward Ross McCormack.

The defender turns 24 next month, and is finally benefitting from getting a run of regular football at a club where he feels settled and trusted.

Having compatriot Aitor Karanka in charge of the club has certainly helped, and he is showing the form which earned him a cap at under-21 level for his country.

Breaking through at Liverpool was always going to be tough, and many good players do not make it, mainly due to a lack of chances.

Ayala is now making up for lost time, and with his career on the up, there are likely to be a few impressive milestones he can achieve in the years ahead, but right now Middlesbrough are simply glad to have him.

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