It couldn’t have been much worse for Calum Chambers on his first-team return as Middlesbrough were comprehensively beaten 4-0 away by AFC Bournemouth .
Having last featured for Aitor Karanka’s side on 18 February in their FA Cup win over Oxford United, Chambers took to social media last weekend, posting a video of his workout session and how he was aiming to return stronger from a stress fracture in his foot.
Against Bournemouth, they struggled from the offset and it was the precise opposite of a positive return to action. Joshua King broke the deadlock after just 96 seconds and this set the tone for the remainder of the match. Chambers initially seemed a tad off-the-pace and uncomfortable, to be expected after a lack of match practice at this level recently.
However, his performance was not helped by the lack of support he received from defensive colleagues. Antonio Barragan in particular, was constantly being given the run-around and you could see from Chambers’ body language that he was disgruntled at how easily their backline was being split open early on.
Goals from Benik Afobe, Marc Pugh, and Charlie Daniels helped put the gloss on a comfortable display of dominance from the hosts, helped by Gaston Ramirez’s abrupt dismissal after just twenty minutes.
Chambers was unsurprisingly one of Boro’s half-decent performers on a forgettable afternoon – typified by a crucial interception he was forced to make in his own area, preventing Bournemouth from scoring another.
Unfortunately, it was short-lived as straight afterwards, they lost possession in an attempt to push players forward and look for a goal to get themselves back into contention. Chambers left the space, expecting his team-mates to retain possession. Pugh was free to roam in that same spot, he drifted goalwards and picked his spot.
Back to the drawing board, for a side that looks all but down now.
Chambers match statistics
- One shot, one key pass and 59.4% pass accuracy
- Four completed tackles (joint highest during the match with Bournemouth’s Harry Arter), three interceptions, two clearances and no fouls
As you can see from his stats, Chambers did fairly well despite the team’s poor performance.
He’ll be hoping to see a significant improvement in his passing accuracy as he’s usually more confident on the ball and ultimately, avoid getting into precarious situations where he may lose possession to begin with.
With five matches left this term, Chambers’ presence couldn’t be more important for Boro.
They sit in 19th place, nine points behind Hull – who are 17th and currently safe from relegation.
It’ll take a miracle for them to avoid the drop into next season’s Championship but the defender and his team-mates will nonetheless be aiming for a successful finish to the campaign.