Key factor Michael Carrick hopes will help Alex Bangura ease Middlesbrough frustrations

Alex Bangura of Middlesbrough goes off injured with Michael Carrick watching on
Alex Bangura of Middlesbrough goes off injured with Michael Carrick watching on -Credit:Richard Lee/REX/Shutterstock

Michael Carrick is hoping Alex Bangura can use the frustrating experiences of his first season at Middlesbrough to make huge improvements next term and become a key player.

Bangura endured a difficult first season at Boro after signing late in last summer's transfer window from Cambuur in the Netherlands. Injured in his debut at Blackburn Rovers in Boro's sixth league game of the season, the 24-year-old's campaign would ultimately continue in much the same vain.

Returning to make his second start in November, he would make five starts over nine league games win a period stretching into the New Year. However, after suffering a hamstring injury when pushed while challenging for ball in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea, the Sierra Leone international's season was feared over. In the end, he returned to make two sub appearances late in the season, but will be hoping for a far bigger impact next term.

READ MORE: Positive Middlesbrough injury update ahead of the start of pre-season

“He will no doubt be a little frustrated with how his first season has gone thanks to injuries," Carrick assessed. "He has missed a lot of football and he’s been desperate to play. When you think about the inconsistency of our team throughout the season because of injuries, Alex will have been frustrated. In some ways, it’s taken out of your hands, but I’m sure he will be better for the experience."

Bangura did manage to end the season on a high. He netted his second goal for the club after coming off the bench in the final game against Watford. His popularity in the squad was clear to see, as even Seny Dieng rushed up the field as Boro players celebrated with the left-back.

Hoping he can use the good and the bad to push him on next season, Carrick continued: "He understands us now, he has lived here for coming up to a year now. He understands his team-mates now, understands us and knows how we play. He knows what the league is all about now. So he’ll definitely be better for the experience.

"As challenging and as tough as it has been for him, I’m sure he will be better for it next season. That was a positive way for him to finish off. You could see from the boys how much that meant to the rest of the group and I think that shows a lot.”

Left-back was ultimately such a key role in Carrick's Boro team last season when loanee Ryan Giles provided so many assists in a role that offered plenty of freedom to attack. While Lukas Engel showed plenty of improvement throughout the campaign it's fair to say that when Bangura did manage to play, he always looked the one of the two most capable of filling Giles' shoes in the ideal way Carrick wants Boro to look.

In that regard, this could be a crucial summer and season ahead for Bangura. Having not had a pre-season at Boro last summer - one that would have been tailored towards the physical demands of the Championship - Carrick is hoping that a full summer programme this time around can ultimately provide the foundations for him to show huge improvements next term.

“A pre-season with us can definitely benefit him," Carrick said. "Every league is different, and certainly is different in different countries. Even just seeing this league now and understanding the intensity when he has played, that will help him next season.”