Adam Reach will return to Middlesbrough as a “hardened” first-team player, according to Phil Parkinson.
The young left winger makes his 12th City appearance tonight against Walsall after his loan was extended again for a further month.
Parkinson believes he can develop far quicker for the Championship club by playing regularly at Valley Parade than being stuck on the fringes at Boro.
The City boss said: “Adam is an intelligent player as well as having his ability and athleticism. He understands the game.
“At 21, he needs regular football and he’s hoping by the end of this season to have played 40 games. That will be a good return for him.
“Middlesbrough want to see how he does over a prolonged period. Playing week in, week out tests you mentally as well as physically and Adam needs to do that.
“I’ve worked with a few at Charlton who were perennial squad players. They’d be with the club in the Premiership and then when I was there they had to become week in, week out players.
“They couldn’t do it because mentally they’d got used to coming in for a couple of games, being rested, coming out for two or three weeks and then being called again after an injury. It had been ingrained in them that they were squad players and you don’t want to become that.
“Adam has got to get that hardened attitude of playing every single minute of every game as much as he can.”
Nathan Doyle will miss out against the Saddlers after his groin tightened up at Shrewsbury. He had been playing through the problem for a while.
City will also check on Matthew Bates, who has been suffering from a bout of sickness.
Doyle’s absence means a recall for Gary Jones and Parkinson reckons the skipper has benefited from the break.
“Gary’s in a good place again. The virus did knock the stuffing out of him but prior to the Brentford game he has been outstanding for us.
“He has had a terrific season and I want him to finish it on a high. The break has probably done him good.”
Parkinson views tonight’s game as a chance to flush the Shrewsbury result straight out of the system. He felt the points were “stolen away” but sees no reason to mope.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up and get a response,” he said. “Nobody’s going to do that for us.
“It’s a similar game to MK Dons because Walsall play with that deep-lying striker. There will be times when they have possession.
“We have to stay disciplined and not lose our shape. But equally if we go with two up top, that is an advantage for us.”