Chris Wilder has praised Folarin Balogun’s performance in his first Championship start for Middlesbrough over the weekend.

Folarin Balogun provides an assist for Middlesbrough against Derby County (Photo via Boro on Twitter)
Folarin Balogun provides an assist for Middlesbrough against Derby County (Photo via Boro on Twitter)

Following his first start for Middlesbrough on Saturday, his loan manager Chris Wilder had positive things to say about Folarin Balogun and fellow loanee Aaron Connolly.

“I thought they’d gas themselves out after about 60 or 70 minutes and Azza [Aaron Connolly] and Flo [Folarin Balogun] kept going because they got that game under their belt,” Wilder said. “I’m delighted with them two.

“At the top of the pitch, you have to start the press and you want them to run forward. Both were really bright and they were a constant threat all afternoon for the centre-halves.

“It was good, they got hold of the ball. Their work rate was fabulous and I wanted to bring them off at the end and I know what sort of reception they would have got.

“Hopefully that settles them down a little bit because when you go to a new club in January, it’s not always easy.”

Manchester United's French defender Raphael Varane (L) vies with Middlesbrough's English striker Folarin Balogun (R) during the English FA Cup fourth-round football match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on February 4, 2022. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester United’s French defender Raphael Varane (L) vies with Middlesbrough’s English striker Folarin Balogun (R) during the English FA Cup fourth-round football match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on February 4, 2022. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY / AFP via Getty Images)

Balogun had to wait a few games for his first opportunity in Middlesbrough’s Championship starting lineup, making four substitute appearances first.

In those four appearances, Balogun had played 96 minutes and provided one assist for a winning goal against Coventry City. He then had the chance to show what he could do from the off against Derby County this weekend.

The Arsenal striker was part of a strong Middlesbrough performance, as they raced into a 3-1 lead by half-time. He had to wait until the 89th minute for a goal contribution of his own, but it was worth the wait.

With the clock running down, Balogun pressed a defender into a mistake, nicking the ball off him in the penalty area. Balogun then cleverly executed a backheel flick to Duncan Watmore, who scored from close range.

Wilder brought Balogun off just before the end of the 90 minutes to plenty of applause, though he adds that the Arsenal man will have competition for places despite that display.

“I believe they deserved every bit of that reception at the end. That’s more like what we know,” Wilder said.

“It’s up to them to keep that standard and we know there is a group of five [strikers] and three other boys that would like a little bit of that going forward.”

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.