FORMER Middlesbrough defender Gary Pallister is tipping winger Adama Traore to become a star on the Premier League stage, after proving he has what it takes to shine at the Riverside.

After a difficult 18 months on Teesside after moving from Aston Villa, Traore is really starting to show he has what it takes to become a real threat to defences at the top level.

Tony Pulis, the Middlesbrough boss, has managed to get more out of the 22-year-old by giving him the freedom to impress in possession of the ball – and has encouraged him to shoot more.

That ploy has earned him three goals since the turn of the year; his first goals since making the switch from Villa in the summer of 2016.

On top of that the exciting Spaniard is also showing he can get through defensive work, by tracking back even if there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Pallister, who played with wingers such as Ryan Giggs, Andrei Kanchelskis and David Beckham during glorious times with Manchester United, thinks Traore can live up to his potential.

“Tony Pulis is getting the best out of Adama Traore,” said Pallister. “The kid has got unbelievable talent. His game management needs work but as a threat, this guy could walk into a Premier League team.

“He would not look out of place because he can destroy players. It's just getting his game management right.”

Traore has become a key man for Boro since the turn of the year. Pulis’ side look far more dangerous when he is in full flow and the challenge is to make sure he holds his improved form.

Middlesbrough head to Cardiff City on Saturday looking to close the four-point gap to the play-off zone, while the fourth-placed Bluebirds are a further three points clear.

But Pallister is convinced there is a better chance of top-flight football returning to the Riverside now that Pulis is leading the charge.

Pallister, who had two spells as a player at Boro, said: “They have got a better chance of going up now Tony is in. They were struggling before he came in.

“Boro had just came out of the Premier League and Steve Gibson spent a lot of money. He brought a lot of new players in to give us the push to go straight back up and it really wasn't happening.

“I think it was touch and go whether we would have made the play-offs. Pulis has come in and I think we've seen an impact straight away from him.

“He's obviously experienced, he's been through the mill and he knows what it takes to create teams. I think you can see a difference in the side already. They are playing with a lot more confidence.

“I was at the Riverside a few weeks back when they lost Tony's first game 1-0. But you could still see a direction and they deserved to win the game. They shouldn't have lost.

“They then went to QPR and got a great victory and I am really confident we will get in the play-offs. As for an automatic place, we've got to put a real run together to get in contention for that. But I like what I see.”

Pallister was speaking to