5 players key to Middlesbrough's return to the Premier League


Middlesbrough secured their return to the Premier League after a seven-year exile when they drew 1-1 with Brighton on Saturday to clinch the second automatic promotion spot.

Here, we look at five men who played significant roles in dragging the Teessiders back into the top flight.

1. Dimi Konstantopoulos

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos

Greece international goalkeeper Konstantopoulos has had his critics this season after a couple of high-profile errors, but he has otherwise been hugely dependable and his 22 clean sheets laid the foundation for Boro's success.

2. Daniel Ayala

Middlesbrough's Daniel Ayala

Spanish defender Ayala has been a rock for the Teessiders and it was little coincidence that the club enjoyed a mid-season wobble during his two-month injury absence between February and April.

3. Ben Gibson

Ben Gibson for Middlesbrough

Local boy Gibson, the nephew of chairman Steve, has formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Ayala and provided a link with the fans, from among whose ranks he emerged.

4. Adam Clayton

Adam Clayton

Not the biggest name in a midfield boosted by the summer return of Stewart Downing, Clayton has nevertheless worked tirelessly alongside Grant Leadbitter to provide a shield in front of the back four and a supply line for the men in front of him.

5. Albert Adomah

Albert Adomah

Wide-man Adomah appeared to be on his way out of the Riverside Stadium in August after a difference of opinion with head coach Aitor Karanka, but his reintegration has been richly rewarded with a series of high-octane performances which have enhanced the club's cutting edge.