RAV van den Berg hopes to establish himself as a first choice central defender for Middlesbrough in the future but as things stand is more than happy to be covering at right-back.

Boro beat European giants including Milan and Dortmund to the summer capture of the in-demand Dutch defender, who caught the eye in his homeland playing as a centre-half.

But most of van den Berg's football in the early stages of his time on Teesside has come at full-back, with head coach Michael Carrick forced to tinker with his backline due to a number of injuries.

And with last season's first choice right-back Tommy Smith ruled out for the entirety of the campaign, van den Berg could well find himself playing on the right of Boro's defence for the foreseeable future.

As he looks ahead, the 19-year-old wants to be a mainstay at the heart of Boro's defence but he believes his current stint covering at full-back will help him in the long run.

And he feels as though he's adjusting to his new role well.

“To be honest, in the beginning, it did take a little bit of adapting," says van den Berg.

"But when you see how well Dael Fry is playing, it is normal that I do not play there for now. So, for me, I just like playing.

"Playing is playing and I really like right-back. It’s great to help me evolve as a player, so I’m not complaining."


Given his defensive background, it would be natural to assume what van den Berg has found most challenging about playing at full-back is the attacking responsibility, but that's not the case.

He says: “Because we build-up in a three, it is almost the same. It’s more the defensive side that is different because you face up against the winger so often and I am not used to that.

"One-on-one versus the winger is not something I am used to when playing in the centre. That’s the only big difference, I think, but nothing too big.

"It is really good for my development. Defending against players one-on-one is something that I’m not used to and for that reason, I think playing here is really good for me.

"My hope of course is to eventually move back to centre-back, and when I do, this experience at right-back will certainly be useful in certain situations."