MICHAEL CARRICK claims the best is still to come from Sam Greenwood, with the forward primed to return to action against Ipswich Town this weekend.

Greenwood missed last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Leeds United as he was unable to line up against his parent club at Elland Road.

The previous Tuesday’s home win over Preston ended a run of eight successive starts for the 21-year-old, who joined Boro in the summer on a season-long loan, with the Teessiders having negotiated a £1.5m fee for a potential permanent deal.

Greenwood was one of the most highly-rated youngsters in the country when he broke into the Under-21 set-up in Sunderland’s academy, and while subsequent spells at Arsenal and Leeds did not really go to plan, Carrick has been delighted with the Wearsider’s progress on Teesside, even if he still sees plenty of room for future improvement.

“I’m delighted for him,” said the Boro boss, whose side fell to 12th as a result of their weekend defeat in West Yorkshire. “I always enjoy seeing players who have got their potential thriving and growing. We try to give them a platform to do that, and Sam has been terrific.


“He’s played a bit of football, but is still in the early days of his career, so to come in and develop so quickly, and we can all see what he offers to the team, along with his attitude and how he helps the team, he’s been absolutely first class.

“He’s another one where there is still loads more to come as well, which is really encouraging. I really enjoy seeing the boys grow and develop and, just as importantly, enjoying themselves as well.”

Boro have agreed a fee for Greenwood with Leeds, but the forward’s future is complicated by the terms of his current contract at Elland Road.

If Leeds win promotion this season, Greenwood would be due a major uplift in wages, something that would almost certainly make it more difficult for Boro to persuade him to make a permanent move to the Riverside if they were to still find themselves in the Championship.

The North-Easterner’s form has also not gone unnoticed this season, with Premier League clubs West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brentford all having been linked with a potential move for his services along with Championship leaders Leicester City.

Carrick and the rest of Boro’s recruitment team would love to engineer a permanent arrangement ahead of the transfer window reopening in January – something that the terms of their agreement with Leeds would allow – but that would rely on Greenwood signing up to a full-time transfer, something that looks unlikely at this moment as things stand.