The nine Middlesbrough youngsters who have been spotted in first-team training ahead of Portugal

Middlesbrough players in pre-season training at Rockliffe
-Credit: (Image: Middlesbrough FC)

Middlesbrough are now through two weeks of pre-season training and will be flying out to Portugal on Sunday for some warm-weather training in week three.

The week in Portugal will culminate with their first friendly of the summer as they once again play Vitoria SC after last summer's fiery contest which Boro won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Marcus Forss. Not involved so far this summer, it's not yet certain whether the Finn will make the trip to the continent with his team-mates as he continues his recovery from an injury that ended his campaign early last term.

As is standard through a pre-season campaign though, Michael Carrick has also been using the extended training time to take a closer look and try to integrate certain academy players into the first-team squad, with nine youngsters regularly training with Carrick's side so far this summer.

READ MORE: Sol Brynn vs Zach Hemming - loan experiences and the battle for Middlesbrough deputy status

It's not yet known if all nine will be on the plane to Portugal, or if the travelling contingent will be joined by any other Under-21s or 18 players. Carrick has certainly been keen throughout his time in charge at Boro to hand opportunities to players in the academy and prove there is a pathway for young prospects as long as it's earned.

Law McCabe is seen as the next star likely to make a breakthrough. He's almost certain to be on the plane to Portugal on Sunday having signed a new four-year contract this week. Having made his first senior start in the last-day win over Watford last term, he is expected to step-up and become a fully-fledged first-teamer this season, with hopes he can earn extra playing time.

Alan Fettis has been busy this summer, with the goalkeeper coach working with five players so far this summer after Sol Brynn and Zach Hemming returned from successful loan spells last term. Now working alongside Seny Dieng, Tom Glover and Jamie Jones, Boro have an interesting decision to make with regard to which three shot-stoppers they carry forward into next term.

Fresh from making his senior debut in the final game of last season, James Wilson has returned to training as part of the first-team squad too. A boyhood Boro fan from Hurworth, the tall centre-back, 17, hoping to cement his place in and around the squad next term.

As well as McCabe, Boro have many other talented central midfielders emerging from their academy. Fin Cartwright made his debut in last term's Carabao Cup when still just 16 and Luke Woolston first caught Carrick's eye to earn some game time in a friendly at Hibernian during the 2022 World Cup break. Both have been with the first-team squad throughout the summer so far.

And finally, bolstering Carrick's forward ranks, Sonny Finch, Charlie Lennon and Ajay Matthews have also been regulars. Finch would have likely been seen far more last term but struggled with injury problems throughout and therefore his regular presence this summer is encouraging.

Lennon and Matthews, meanwhile, debuted late in the campaign and have continued training with Carrick's side on their returns. Matthews is being targeted by numerous top clubs this summer and has just one year remaining on the pro contract he signed last summer. Boro will be hoping to convince the Teesside goalscorer that his development is better suited to staying at the Riverside.