MICHAEL CARRICK has hailed Seny Dieng as the unsung hero of Middlesbrough’s surge up the Championship table in the last few weeks.

Dieng joined Boro from Championship rivals QPR in the summer, signing a four-year contract as he moved to the Riverside for a fee of around £2m.

Last season, Zack Steffen was a key member of the Teessiders’ starting line-up, but the American returned to his parent club, Manchester City, when his loan expired in the summer.

It was feared Boro could struggle to replace Steffen, who was a smart shot-stopper as well as a player capable of sparking his side’s attacks with the ball at his feet.

However, in the Swiss-born Dieng, who is a senior Senegal international, Carrick has replaced Steffen with someone who is equally as effective at keeping out opposition shots and also evefy bit as good when it comes to passing the ball around behind the back four.

“He’s (Dieng) done really well since arriving,” said the Boro boss. “He’s been a really calming influence. He’s quite laid back naturally as a character, but that doesn’t take away from the other side which is his control and calmness and how that rubs off on the back four and the team as a whole.


“That’s with the ball and without. He has a big influence on what we do and how we try to attack from the back. He’s made some big saves at certain times as well in certain games. It can go unnoticed at times, but he’s had a big impact for us, and we know how vital clean sheets are for us to be successful.”

Dieng’s arrival led to Boro agreeing to release three of their other goalkeepers on loan. Liam Roberts is playing with Barnsley in League One, Sol Brynn is also in the third tier with Leyton Orient, while Zach Hemming has moved to Scotland to join St Mirren.

Hemming has been in good form in the Scottish Premier League, helping St Mirren climb to third position in the table, and Buddies boss is Stephen Robinson is hoping to be able to keep the Bishop Auckland-born 23-year-old beyond his current season-long loan.

“Zach was someone I’ve always liked,” said Robinson. “I liked him at Kilmarnock, and then he got injured. He’s been a revelation for us – some of his saves have been fantastic, and you can rely on Zach.

“Zach is certainly evolving as a goalkeeper, as a person, and is a big part of what we’ve done. He is certainly fulfilling his potential. I know Alan Fettis, the Middlesbrough goalkeeping coach, and he spoke very highly of him.

“For me, Zach has a massive future in the game. Hopefully, we will keep him until the end of the season, and maybe beyond – who knows? Middlesbrough are very happy with his development here, happy with what we’re doing with him. Zach is happy, he loves the place and the club, and is a really good character as well.”