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Versatile Bailey facing uncertain future
NICKY BAILEY could continue to shine as Mr Versatile for Middlesbrough this afternoon but his future remains uncertain.
The 28-year-old midfielder is one of the options to slot in to the heart of the defence when Hastings United, of the Ryman Isthmian League, look to inflict an FA Cup shock at the Riverside Stadium.
With George Friend, Andre Bikey, Seb Hines and Jonathan Woodgate all missing, Bailey's ability to slot into the backline is high in Mowbray's thinking after being asked to finish in that role at Derby on New Year's Day.
Mowbray has no concerns about Bailey's commitment to his team, highlighting the former Charlton man's willingness to switch roles as a trait worth having around.
"Nicky Bailey is the boy he is. Whatever he is asked to do he will do 100 per cent and more," said Mowbray. "Nicky keeps telling me he arrived as a goalscoring midfielder. He scored 13 goals two years on the bounce, but I only see what I see in training.
"He never scores any goals in training and sits in front of the back four, protects it. I play him where I think he is at his best.
"He is versatile enough to play left-back, right-back, if I think there's a player who could be a threat and he could do a job against them. He has played centre-half, right-back. I could play him anywhere in midfield, that's what he is like."
Despite his admiration for the player, Bailey will become a free agent in the summer when the contract he signed after moving in a £1.5m deal from Charlton in July 2010 expires.
He was signed by Gordon Strachan at a time when chairman Steve Gibson was happy to gamble on a push for promotion ahead of a second season in the Championship.
And Mowbray said: "Nicky's contract will probably be allowed to run down. The reasons are what they are. He arrived at a time when this club was doing different things financially.
"I don't feel like I have anywhere to go with Nicky Bailey's contract. It's running down, he's playing his part and if we are in the Premier League next year then the money issues will not be a problem."
Bailey is likely to be one of the most experienced members of the team against Hastings, when Mowbray must name a starting XI bereft of 14 first-team players.
"It's been good this season that we have been able to make changes, mainly through injuries, and deliver results," said Mowbray. "Regardless of who it is against on Saturday then hopefully we can continue that."
n Boro academy prospect Matty Dolan yesterday signed for Yeovil on a month-long loan deal, despite Hartlepool United keen to take the midfielder.
n West Brom boss Steve Clarke admits Graham Dorrans' desire for a ''fresh challenge'' led to him agreeing to let the midfielder leave during January if the price and circumstances are right. Mowbray is an admirer of the Scot after signing him at WBA.
Dorrans has struggled to secure a first-team spot and was left out of the Baggies matchday squad altogether for the New Year's Day home defeat to Fulham.
The 25-year-old held talks with Clarke two weeks ago and is understood to be keen on a move nearer to his native Scotland.