Richard Smallwood celebrates after scoring against Blackpool - Photo by North News

The 22-year-old from Dormanstown, who picked up Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association's Young Player of the Year award this week, has been a key squad player this season.

But while he's delighted to be playing his part, he has his sights firmly set on the first XI.

"Playing for the first team is what you've worked for all your life coming through the ranks," he says.

"When you walk out there and your family are in the stand and the fans are cheering you on, you just want to give it your all.

"I know that if you keep working hard it will eventually come good for you and that's what I've got to do."

Chico Flores challenges Grant Leadbitter during Boro Capital One Cup quarter-final at Swansea - Photo by Getty Images

Smallwood says training every day alongside Grant Leadbitter can only help him achieve his goal.

"Grant has been one of our best players this season and is in my position so I just keep learning from him," he said.

"He's played in the Premier League and you see him every day in training and he's a class midfielder. I'm only young so I'll keep learning from him."

Boro's npower Championship form has stuttered in recent weeks with three consecutive defeats but Smallwood says the focus remains bringing Premier League football back to Teesside.

"That's what we all aim for and what I've always worked towards," he said. "The Premier League is the best league in the world without question and if we can get there it will be a massive achievement for me personally and for the club."

Richard Smallwood scores at Preston - Photo-CameraSport

The midfielder has already been on the scoresheet several times away from home but his first home goal, against Blackpool last month, was a very special moment.

"I've always wanted to score at the Riverside and when it came I didn't know what to do!" he said

"I looked across to the linesman to see if I was offside. I couldn't believe I'd actually scored in a game at the Riverside and it just meant so much."

Boro take a break from their league programme this weekend when Aldershot visit the Riverside and Smallwood would love to be involved.

"You want to play all the games, whether in the league or the cup," he says "Hopefully my name will be on the teamsheet and I can go out there and help us get a result.

"They're all tough games, we saw that against Hastings United. Aldershot will want to do really well and make a name for themselves so we have to be on the ball. Hopefully we will be on Saturday."