MICHAEL CARRICK is confident Cameron Archer will bring “something different” to his Middlesbrough team in the remaining four months of the season.

  • Archer made an instant impact as he made his first start since signing on loan from Aston Villa during yesterday’s 2-0 win over Watford, setting up Chuba Akpom’s opening goal and repeatedly troubling the Hornets’ defence with his running off the shoulder of the last defender.

While Matt Crooks has done a decent job of performing as a central striker in recent weeks, the repositioned midfielder does not really have the kind of explosive pace that would enable him to get behind opposition defences.

Archer can do that, and now he has forced his way into Boro’s starting line-up, Carrick expects the England Under-21 international to continue going from strength to strength.

The Boro boss said: “It’s a different skillset, that’s the beauty of it. You don’t want all your players to be the same – we want options and we want players to bring different things.

“For Cam’s first start, I thought he was terrific. He creates space for others, and does some really selfless work with his runs off the ball. That allows Chuba, Riley (McGree) and Marcus (Forss) to get space and make runs in behind. As a front four, they had a really good mix of play.

“I’m sure Cam wanted to score his goal – he had a couple of opportunities – but I’m sure that will come. I believe that. But his overall performance was really good. That wasn’t surprising, because we know what he’s like.”

Archer has been with Boro for most of this month, and Carrick is delighted with the way in which the youngster has integrated himself into the Teessiders’ first-team squad.

He said: “He looked dangerous, he looked confident, and he looked like he’d been playing here for a lot longer than he has. That’s good. It reflects the work on the training ground, and also shows that the boys have taken to him and helped him settle in.

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough forward Cameron ArcherMiddlesbrough forward Cameron Archer (Image: Andrew Varley)

“That’s important, and it can get overlooked because we always look at what happens on the pitch. A lot of the time, it’s what’s off it that’s important. You have to fit into the changing room, and fit into the dynamics and character of the squad. It’s great to see when someone comes and fits in.”

Carrick opted to promote Archer to the starting line-up in the wake of the previous weekend’s derby defeat to Sunderland, but was at pains to stress that he has been delighted with Crooks’ efforts as a makeshift centre-forward.

He said: “It was a mixture of things (why he decided to make the change). There’s all sorts of little bits that come into. Crooksy has done great and played a lot of games for us. He’s done really well.

“Cam’s played a little bit in pretty much every game and came in and looked really sharp last week. That’s a decision we’re here to make. Sometimes we get it right, hopefully more often than not, and sometimes you might look back and think, ‘Maybe I got that one wrong’.

“That’s life as a football coach. The beauty of it is that we’ve got good options and they bring something different. I’m sure we’ll use all of them, and whoever we turn to will do great between now and the end of the season.”