Just two starts this season; Did Derby County and Stoke City get lucky missing out on Paddy McNair?

Paddy McNair of Sunderland is helped to his feet by the club physio after sustaining an injury during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Hull City at Stadium of Light on...

Middlesbrough signed Paddy McNair from Sunderland in the summer.

Sunderland player Paddy McNair in action during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Middlesbrough at Stadium of Light on August 21, 2016 in Sunderland, England.

Derby County and Stoke City may have dodged a bullet when missing out on the signing of Paddy McNair, as the former Sunderland man has struggled to get going at new club Middlesbrough.

Boro signed the utility man from Sunderland for a reported £5 million fee in June (The Sun), but they had to fight off competition from both Derby and Stoke who were accredited with a strong interest in the player (Daily Mirror, live blog entry 14:55, June 2).

 

Many Boro supporters were initially excited to see what McNair could do after earning decent praise with the Black Cats despite their relegation to League One, but the player has since disappointed.

McNair has managed to make just two Championship starts for Boro this season, with his latter coming in the 1-1 draw at home to Derby when he was hauled off at half-time as Tony Pulis shuffled his pack.

The 23-year-old is predominantly a centre midfielder, but hasn’t done enough to warrant a regular place at Boro and it’s hard to see how he would make a difference at Derby or Stoke either.

The Rams line up in Frank Lampard’s preferred 4-3-3 system and play an attacking fast-paced brand of football, with interchanging midfielders and overlapping fullbacks. Loanees Harry Wilson and Mason Mount have been excellent, while youngsters Duane Holmes and George Evans are also pushing for starts with Craig Bryson and Tom Huddlestone offering further options.

Frank Lampard the manager of Derby County shakes hands with Jayden Bogle after victory in the Carabao Cup First Round match between Oldham Athletic and Derby County at Boundary Park on...

Stoke, meanwhile, are more pragmatic under Gary Rowett and two goals conceded in their last six league games shows the Potters are heading in the right direction.

In midfield Ryan Woods and Joe Allen make up a strong pair with fellow signings Sam Clucas and Peter Etobo also looking to break in.

Missing out on McNair in the summer has allowed Derby and Stoke to head in another direction which is beginning to show plenty of potential, meanwhile Boro boss Pulis has a job on his hands to work out how to get the best out of McNair at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro manager Tony Pulis during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final First Leg match between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa at Riverside Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Middlesbrough,...

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