Wilder praises Arsenal loanee as Middlesbrough overcome tough opposition

Middlesbrough returned to the play-off places as Andraz Sporar netted the only goal in Chris Wilder’s 1-0 victory over Coventry City.

After a competitive first-half the fixtures only goal came after 58 minutes, as Sporar got on the end of Falorin Balogun’s cross – just two minutes after the new signing came on. Balogun joined Middlesbrough this month on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal. And Wilder believes his impact proves the January signings are already having a positive impact on the squad.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Wilder said: “We’ve talked about depth from the bench, and now we’ve got game changers in there. We want competition for places, and with Riley (McGree) coming back, as long as we keep everybody fit and healthy, we’ve got that.

“I’m delighted we had the opportunity to make those changes (to the squad). We felt the timing was right (for the substitutions), we needed a spark from somewhere and we certainly got that from Flo.”

McGree is another of Wilder’s January signings, having joined from Charlotte FC earlier this month.

Currently on international duty, the Australian is expected to be available for Friday’s fourth-round cup tie against Manchester United.

But Wilder will still be looking ahead to the league, with Boro now just inside the top six on goal difference.

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Wilder praises tough opposition

With Boro now returning to winning ways, Wilder will be hoping the new boys can help his side mount a promotion push.

But Wilder credited his recent opponents for a tightly-contested game, and admitted he had sympathy for the Coventry boss.

He said: “It’s a good result. It wasn’t a standout performance – it wasn’t a Forest or a Bournemouth. You look at your own performance, and at times we gave the ball away cheaply, but I’ve got to say that Coventry are right up there in terms of the teams that we’ve played.

“They’re possibly the best team we’ve played. Obviously, Mark has had time to construct a side, and done it from a lot of work and good recruitment, with bright players at the top of the pitch. I thought (Viktor) Gyokeres was as good a centre-forward performance as I’ve seen in this division all season.

“We knew we would be up against a good side.

“We would have liked the performance to be better, but we didn’t get the result on Monday when we felt our performance in the second half was good enough to get something, and maybe Mark (Robins) will be feeling the same thing I did on Monday.

“But we’re here to get results and win games of football. But we’re here to get results and win games of football, and we’ve won a really tight one today.”

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