Two Middlesbrough players could return for Watford but McNair may have already played final game

Paddy McNair of Middlesbrough
Paddy McNair of Middlesbrough -Credit:Nigel Roddis/News Images

Dael Fry and Josh Coburn could play some part in Middlesbrough's final game of the season against Watford on Saturday after the pair returned to training this week.

It's good news for the Teesside duo, even if it comes for the final game of the season, which has little riding on it for either side. With both having injury troubles through the season, ending it back among the group before going away for the summer fit enough to tick over before heading back for pre-season in the summer, should set them in good stead for next season's preparations.

With Michael Carrick not giving away any other changes to his squad, however, it likely means that the season is over for Hayden Hackney and Paddy McNair - who both have uncertain futures this summer. For Hackney, there will almost certainly be Premier League interest this summer, though Boro are determined to try and hold onto the star academy graduate.

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McNair, meanwhile, is out of contract this summer and almost certain to leave after six years at the club. He's been absent since suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty in March, but had returned to training a fortnight ago. But as yet to return to a match-day squad, it's quite likely to Northern Irishman has already played his final game for Boro.

Carrick said: "Josh has been back around training this week, Dael a little bit too. Whether Saturday is a bit too soon, it's great to have them back and feeling fit and back around the group. We'll make a call on what it is, other than that it's pretty much as we were."

Lukas Engel has also missed the last couple of games due to a personal issue and it's not yet known if he will return to the squad for the weekend. Tom Glover, Tommy Smith, Darragh Lenihan, Marcus Forss and Riley McGree were all previously confirmed out for the rest of the season.

Those players will be targeting a strong summer in order to start next season strongly, with Carrick excited to have them back in and around the group as they return over the course of the summer pre-season schedule. And he believes the frustrations they'll have after the season of injury frustration can be good news for Boro.

He continued: "Definitely [The boys will be eager to get back in the summer]. Similar to the team and squad, finishing strong and positively really helps you going into the summer. For the boys to be feeling fit and strong and have the issues behind them is important. It clears the mind for over the summer and refocuses for getting fit and coming back.

"It definitely fuels that enthusiasm and energy when you've missed a bit of football. There'll be a number of players who feel like new signings because a number of the lads have missed four or five months or even longer. They'll come back in pre-season and there'll definitely be a freshness in the squad."