IT'S been a frustrating season on the fringes for Alex Gilbert, but Michael Carrick has backed the former Brentford attacker to kick on after his "big moment" at Southampton.

Gilbert - a summer signing from Brentford B - had played just 45 minutes of Championship football before his late introduction from the bench to replace the injured Isaiah Jones at St Mary's on Good Friday.

So far this season the 22-year-old has struggled to catch the eye in his outings from the bench, but he changed the game at Southampton with an eye-catching cameo and delivered the cross that led to Emmanuel Latte Lath's last minute equaliser.

With Marcus Forss and Riley McGree both ruled out for the rest of the season and Boro now having to monitor Jones after he hobbled off on Friday, Gilbert could get more opportunities in the final weeks of the season - with Carrick praising the forward for his reaction to his lack of football this season.


“That’s exactly what we want," he said.

"It’s been challenging for Alex and there is no hiding from that in terms of game time. He’s been frustrated and that’s part of carving out your career and trying to create a career for yourself by picking your moment and taking your opportunity.

"He’s had little bits here and there. This will be a massive boost for him and I’m really pleased for him because he’s kept plugging away. We needed him today. That was a big moment for us.

“You want him to have that frustration. He’s desperate to do well and the frustration is by no means in a negative way. It’s just a desire to play, to do well and to develop. He wants to take that next step and sometimes you’ve just got to what for that right time and take that next step by taking your opportunity. I couldn’t ask for much more from him after he came on."