Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis has praised John Obi Mikel following his debut for the Championship club in the FA Cup this past weekend.
The Nigerian national team captain started and played 62 minutes of Boro’s 1-1 draw with Newport County at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday 26 January.
The home side looked on course to reach the fifth round thanks to Daniel Ayala’s 51st minute goal, but Newport struck back in injury time at the end of the game through Matthew Dolan to secure a replay.
The match was Mikel’s first in the famous red and white of Boro. The 31-year-old signed as a free agent until the end of the season. He was last on the books of Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda but cancelled his contract with them in December.
“John (Obi Mikel) playing 60 minutes, playing the way he did. It’s the first time he’s had his boots on for a couple of months, Shotts (Ryan Shotton) playing 70 minutes as well,” Pulis told reporters in regards to the positives he took from the match.
“John is a quality player, a great lad, a wonderful person. He’ll be good for us but we’ve got to get him fit.
“I still thought we were in control of the game (after Mikel went off), apart from a few little breaks.”
Mikel will hope to feature in Boro’s next match, a Championship clash away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 2 February.