MIDDLESBROUGH winger Ryan Brobbel is at a “crossroads” in his career as competition for places hots up at the Championship club.
That is the view of Brobbel’s Under-21 manager at Middlesbrough, Paul Jenkins, who admits the Hartlepool-born winger is facing a challenge to even get in his side.
Brobbel spent three months on loan at hometown team Hartlepool United earlier this season but returned to parent club Boro earlier this month.
The 21-year-old is yet to make a first team appearance for Boro and has been sent out on loan spells to League Two sides York City and Pools since Aitor Karanka took charge at the Riverside.
“Ryan is at a crossroads in his career,” Jenkins told SportMail. “He has had his period out on loan.
“Ryan is a fine footballer in my opinion, I have known him since he was a young boy.
“It is a case of different levels for different players.
“Going out on loan to a League Two side may not suit every player, they may be more suited to going into a higher league.
“Whatever level Ryan goes, he may benefit from and you might see a better footballer at a higher level because of the talent he has and the way he plays the game.
“Ryan has shown a fantastic attitude since coming back and he has a challenge to get into the Under-21 side at the moment.”
Brobbel made 17 appearances for League Two side Pools before Paul Murray sent him back to the Championship club at the start of this month.
York City boss Russ Wilcox has already admitted he would consider bringing Brobbel back to Bootham Crescent for a third loan spell, should the opportunity arise.
Jenkins admits it is up to Brobbel to knuckle down while he is back at Boro in a bid to try to impress potential suitors.
“He has to play games here and hopefully someone else will come in and take a chance,” said Jenkins.
“It is hard enough at the moment to get into the Under-21s at Middlesbrough.
“The first team is doing very well and there is a challenging environment.
“It has a knock-on affect and we have had a very good positive start to our season at Under-21 level and we are having one or two first team players play for us.
“Players are not guaranteed places and that has helped develop a competitive environment at the club.”