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29th July 2018

Boro fans have always showed their appreciation for players who have left the club having given their all during their stay on Teesside. Last season we saw Albert Adomah receive a fantastic welcome when he featured twice for Aston Villa at The Riverside in the regular league campaign and again in the play-off semi-final first leg.

Another player who would always be welcome back, though after his move to Nantes that seems unlikely, is Fabio Da Silva. Ironically the best goal he scored on Teesside was against the Boro when he hit a pearler for Cardiff City against his eventual employers on a Tuesday night down by the Tees.

During his term as a Boro player he won many plaudits as his all action style and commitment won him a special place in the hearts of the Boro faithful. Not the tallest of players, he still challenged for and won a good percentage of his aerial battles and always gave the maximum effort going forward. He perhaps didn't fit the jigsaw of what Pulis expects from a back four, indeed he was often found out of position after his forays up field when teams, especially in the Premier league, counter attacked with pace.

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As has been suggested with forward players Boro often didn't get the best out of players by not playing to their strengths. Maybe Fabio would have been more effective as a wing back with his pace, crossing ability and his enthusiasm.

We'll never know but he will be fondly remembered and missed, especially as a player who could be played on either flank providing cover. He will need replacing.

His departure was as much down to his personal desire to be closer to family and it was fitting that Pulis gave him such a glowing reference upon his departure.

Going under the radar was the draw for the group stages of the much maligned Checkatrade Trophy. Boro Under 21s have been paired with Burton Albion, Walsall and Port Vale.

Boro have lost all six games that they have played in this competition over the last two seasons and have lost all of them. Hopefully that run might change this term, more importantly the next crop from the Hurworth production line will get valuable experience against seasoned professionals rather than being wrapped in cotton wool by being restricted to same age opposition.

So to Millwall and with the re-arranged home game against Sheffield United coming a few days later, Boro have the chance to hit the ground running. As usual Boro will be backed by a sell-out away following at The New Den next Saturday, bizarrely though the lower tier of the away end will again be left empty.

I don't understand how any club can turn down guaranteed money. Another 1,000 supporters at 29 a shot is just crazy to lose. It stems obviously from crowd control issues where police and safety stewards have the final say.

The last time they let away supporters in the lower tier there was major crowd trouble. Mind you it was against West Ham and the referee awarded three penalties and sent the visiting keeper off. I wonder who that referee was?

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