Carabao Cup: Three Boro youngsters who should start vs Aston Villa

Middlesbrough travel to Villa Park for the second time in seven days this evening – this time in the Carabao Cup – and Garry Monk will have the chance to give senior players a rest after a busy opening to the Championship campaign.

Speaking after Saturday’s 3-2 home win against QPR, the Boro boss praised his players for a week of solid performances in which his side picked up seven points from a possible nine, pushing them up to seventh in the Championship table.

Here are three youngsters who should be in Monk’s starting XI this evening…

Ashley Fletcher

The Man United Academy product came off the bench at half-time on Saturday to get his side back in the game, equalising to make the score 2-2 at a crucial point in the match. He’s had to be patient with the likes of Patrick Bamford, Britt Assombalonga and Rudy Gestede all fighting for places, but the youngster will believe he has earned a start tonight after a taking his chance at the weekend.

Marcus Tavernier

The 18-year-old winger made his first team debut in the second round victory over Scunthorpe at the Riverside Stadium back in August and produced a moment of real quality to set up Fletcher. Tavernier used his pace to burst down the left-wing before sliding the ball to the ex-West Ham forward to poke home from inside the box.

With an assist in his only ever senior appearance, Tavernier – the first player born in 1999 to play a senior game for Boro – will be hoping for a place on the team sheet this evening.

Connor Roberts

Like Tavernier, Roberts made his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup second round after signing on loan from Swansea in the summer. The 21-year-old can play at either right-back or left-back and was part of the Swansea Under-23 side that were named Premier League 2 champions last season.

After impressing in League Two for Yeovil in 2015/16, the Welshman will be looking to get some more senior experience in the Carabao Cup at Villa Park.