Eric Paylor assesses how Michael Carrick might change things up after a disappointing opening day performance in defeat to Millwall

Sammy Silvera should be the next one of Boro’s new contingent to step up to the Championship starting line. The Aussie’s lively show as a second-half sub against Millwall indicated that he can add plenty of life to Michael Carrick’s side.

He’s certainly a progressive player, having earned himself plenty of plaudits in helping Central Coast Mariners to A-League success last season. Sammy has taken the move up to the Championship in his stride, played well in pre-season games and shown a good attitude.

It’s still a big step to start playing 90 minutes of English football once or twice a week, but Silvera lasted the pace well against Millwall. He may yet prove to be the player who fills the gaping gap left by Aaron Ramsey, one of several players from last season who were conspicuous by their absence on Saturday.

It’s easy to say ‘We told you so’ to Carrick after Boro’s non-creative performance, but the manager knows more than anybody about the strengths and weaknesses of his side. It won’t be without trying hard that Boro have failed so far to fill in the gaps up front.

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Certainly, Boro will bring in at least one new striker before the end of August and he will make a big difference, judging by Saturday’s performance. I felt a bit sorry for Morgan Rogers. The lad worked his socks off but does not look like an orthodox striker, especially with the way in which he regularly kept coming into deeper positions.

Carrick has every faith in Rogers’ ability to make the grade at the Boro, and I don’t doubt that for one minute. But I’m not sure it will be as an orthodox striker. Marcus Forss might have been the better option up front against Millwall but there is light at the end of the tunnel with Chuba Akpom and Josh Coburn returning to the bench.

If their fitness levels reach the required mark, both men could end up in the team before too long. Akpom’s future still remains a mystery and a little bit more information throughout the summer would have been helpful to the fans. With the support Boro have got at the moment, there’s no need for secrecy. Everybody is singing from the same hymn book.

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There were suggestions during the summer that Coburn might be sent out on loan again, but he was playing just one level lower with Bristol Rovers last season – and scoring goals. That spell in Bristol has surely helped him to develop as a striker. It would make more sense to keep him around as part of Boro’s first-team squad. Like all home-grown lads, Coburn wears his heart on his sleeve. He is surely ready to make a decent contribution to the squad.

The striker dilemma remains the major factor which has prevented Boro from hitting the ground running in the Championship. It will help if Carrick can come up with a few solutions from within before the club manages to sign another experienced front-runner.

Elsewhere, it’s best that everybody concentrates on the positives. It was great to see skipper Jonny Howson back in action. He will surely be back scrapping in the starting line-up as soon as he is considered fit enough to get through a full game.

Hayden Coulson did his prospects no harm at left-back with a solid display, so the lad would be disappointed to be taken off in the second half. It’s great to have him back in the squad. Hopefully he will get more opportunities.

Ironically Boro will probably go to Coventry City as the underdogs. But it would be folly to write off their chances after the way they dominated the Sky Blues in the first leg of the play-offs.

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