SCIENCE LESSON FOR WOODY
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.’’
FLYER: Winger Matt Phillips in his tangerine times