THERE have been plenty of questions for Garry Monk to ponder since he was appointed Middlesbrough manager in the summer, but on the evidence of the last two matches, he is starting to come up with the answers.

Who should play alongside Ben Gibson at centre-half? Having tried a number of potential partners, Monk appears to have settled on Daniel Ayala, who was the best player on the pitch at Hull on Tuesday night. Who should play at the base of midfield? With Adam Clayton having been cast into exile, Grant Leadbitter and Jonny Howson are developing a partnership that boasts both balance and bite.

What is the best thing to do with Martin Braithwaite? That has proved a tricky one, with the Denmark international capable of filling a variety of attacking and midfield positions. The majority of his pre-season performances came on the left-hand side, and had he not picked up an injury in the opening weeks of the campaign that eventually sidelined him for almost two months, he might well have stayed in that position.

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He has also been switched to the right on occasion, but in the last couple of games, the 26-year-old has found himself in an orthodox attacking role alongside Britt Assombalonga. Not quite an out-and-out striker looking to get on the shoulder of the final defender, not quite a creative ‘number ten’ looking to thread balls through to his strike partner, Braithwaite has been given the license to combine both roles.

It has worked a treat. An influential factor in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Reading, Braithwaite was Boro’s key attacking catalyst against Hull three days later, opening the scoring with a crisp low finish and pulling the Tigers’ defenders here, there and everywhere as he roamed around the final third.

Versatility can be an asset, but there are times when a player benefits from filling his preferred role. When it comes to Braithwaite, familiarity appears to be breeding a sense of content.

“I would say I am a striker – either a ten or a nine,” said the Dane, ahead of tomorrow’s Tees-Wear derby with Sunderland. “I like to play up front, in the middle, where I can move around to either side.

“That is what I prefer, but I’m doing just what the manager wants me to do. I have been training a lot and working hard on my finishing. Normally, that pays off.”

His partnership with Assombalonga has proved especially fruitful, with the pair having scored a combined total of six goals in the six Championship matches they have started together.

That is quite some record, and Braithwaite’s energy and movement complement Assombalonga’s more predatory attacking skills. When the former is dragging defenders out of position as he drifts between the lines, there is more space for the latter to exploit, and they dovetailed neatly at the KCOM Stadium on Tuesday night.

They will be hoping for more joy against a Sunderland side that shipped three goals to the Championship’s bottom club, Bolton Wanderers, in the week, and their attacking work on the Rockliffe Park training ground is clearly paying off.

“I think it has been working well, 100 per cent,” said Braithwaite. “When you are new together, you have to try to find a connection, and that is what we have been looking for.

“Right now, I feel like we are clicking really well, but I feel it can even get better. We are going to be really dangerous, that’s for sure.”

Boro’s general attacking play has improved markedly in the last couple of matches, although Monk’s side are still to prove they can break down defensively-minded opposition at the Riverside.

Their home record this season has been poor, with their last three home outings against Norwich, Brentford and Cardiff providing just a solitary point.

That will have to change if they are to force their way into the automatic promotion picture, but Braithwaite insists he was always confident that some attacking cohesion would arrive.

“We know we will create chances to score in every game, it is just about getting them in,” he said. “We’re not really worried offensively because we know we’re going to get chances to score. We are scoring pretty well at the moment, and there won’t be any stopping there. It is just going to go on like that.”