The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Clive Hether­ing­ton

TONY MOW­BRAY be­lieves Mid­dles­brough’s new fit­ness regime can re­ju­ve­nate the ca­reer of Jonathan Woodgate.

The in­jury-rav­aged ex-Eng­land cen­tre-back, 33, missed al­most half of Boro’s league cam­paign last sea­son af­ter re­join­ing his home-town club as a free agent from Stoke.

Woodgate has also had to cope with his fa­ther’s death just be­fore the start of the new sea­son.

But man­ager Mow­bray, whose side visit Wi­gan to­day, re­vealed: “We’ve ad­dressed lots of things re­gard­ing sports science this sum­mer and in­vested in that heav­ily.

“I would ex­pect Jonathan to play more games this sea­son, be­cause of the in­vest­ment. His guid­ance helps de­velop the younger play­ers and those who aren’t young any­more, like Rhys Wil­liams.


“He’s a cen­tral defender, play­ing along­side Woodgate, and he’ll never get a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion in his life than play­ing with him.

“Rhys can ben­e­fit and the young cen­tre-halves, like Ben Gib­son, who is bub­bling un­derneath the first-team squad.

“He is go­ing to ben­e­fit hugely from hav­ing Jonathan around. Woodgate’s po­si­tional play is as good as any­body’s I’ve seen for a long time.

“When you look at the stats, he can get through a game, look ma­jes­tic, not put a foot wrong, and have prob­a­bly cov­ered half the dis­tance most other play­ers have be­cause he can al­ways find him­self in the right po­si­tion be­fore the ball is played.

“It’s just that nous, knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing that top play­ers have to make the game look easy.’’

Boro beat Wi­gan this sum­mer in the race to sign £1m Bris­tol City winger Al­bert Adomah, 25.

Mow­bray said: “We’ve bought him from League One – we haven’t signed Ron­aldo or Nani. We’ve signed a player who we think we can im­prove over the next three or four years.


“Wi­gan have just come down from the Pre­mier League and have shown a lot of am­bi­tion and signed a lot of play­ers – like Grant Holt.

“I’m sure Dave Whe­lan and Owen Coyle are ex­pect­ing and hop­ing to bounce straight back. Al­bert would prob­a­bly have thought he had a bet­ter chance of get­ting into the Pre­mier League with Wi­gan than with Mid­dles­brough.

“Wi­gan are one of the favourites and we’re nowhere on the back of the way we fin­ished last sea­son. I don’t think Al­bert saw us as a bet­ter bet or big­ger club than Wi­gan.

“Maybe the fact Al­bert knows I’ve been chas­ing him for over two years sug­gests he feels there’s a man­ager who gen­uinely likes him and isn’t re­act­ing to an­other club’s bid.’’

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