DECISION time is fast approaching for Middlesbrough and Paddy McNair, whose contract on Teesside is due to expire this summer.

The Northern Ireland international has spent six years on Teesside since joining from Sunderland in the summer of 2018. At this stage, McNair's future is unclear, though he'd likely to have to accept reduced terms if he was stay at Boro.

McNair has played more than 200 games for Boro and although this season has been disrupted by injury, the former Manchester United man has still made 16 Championship starts.

With Dael Fry out injured, McNair has come into the side for the last couple of games and looks set to keep his place in the side for Saturday's trip to Stoke, who have been linked with the 28-year-old on several occasions in the past.


Darragh Lenihan is still sidelined, though is understood to be ahead of schedule and could play again before the season is out, but McNair still looks likely to be a key player in the remaining weeks of the season and Carrick insists the contract uncertainty won't affect the defender on the pitch.

"It doesn't really make any difference," he said.

"The boys are focused on the next game and there's all sorts of decisions on who is going to be here, who stays, who doesn't stay, that's natural in every club throughout the land. It's not a big deal, it's about what games are coming up.

"I'm not going to say right now and make a decision right now when I haven't had discussions with players. This isn't just about Paddy, it's about any player. There are all sorts of different scenarios, if, buts and maybes. That's a decision for us to make in the weeks and months ahead.

"There's not really a deadline or a specific time, it kind of over time naturally gets done. There's not a deadline on it.

"You have to manage yourself as an individual and player. There's too much to play for. The boys all have their heads on the job. We know we need to find results and get back to winning. That has to be what we concentrate on."

McNair is one of several Boro players have missed a chunk of the season through injury.

Carrick said: "I think that's the situation we've been in, trying to get as many players back as we can to give us the options.

"It's easy to forget the players that are missing and have been missing for some time. That's something we deal with.

"Paddy was out for a number of weeks and missed quite a bit. We've managed to adapt whoever has been out, we've had to find a way.

"We haven't adapted enough in terms of results but we have with the teams we've been able to put out and that's probably down to the quality of the squad, even though it's not enough in terms of the results and where we are in the league."