George Friend is braced for a “tough” pre-season to get Middlesbrough hitting the ground running in the Sky Bet Championship.
Boro’s squad return to training on Monday at Rockliffe, near Darlington, following a slightly extended summer break.
Pre-season will be hard but that’s part of what we need, to get ready for a tough season aheadGEORGE FRIEND
That was to factor in the extra three weeks Boro did at the end of the 2014-15 programme when they agonisingly missed out on a return to the Premier League.
Aitor Karanka’s side stumbled over the last few hurdles in the promotion race and ended up in the play-offs, where they lost to Norwich City in the final at Wembley.
Friend is happy with a “short and sharp pre-season” and is looking forward to getting back to work so much he was back on Teesside early.
Many of his team-mates are still away on their holidays but the fans favourite was happy in the sunshine of his adopted hometown.
“Preseason will be hard but that’s part of what we need, to get ready for a tough season ahead,” said the 27-year-old.
“I always like to have a week back where I am living to get ready again for pre-season,whoever I’ve been playing for.
“And I never under-estimate pre-season, I know it’s going to be tough.
“It’s great to be back and I obviously can’t stay away from Boro can I?”
Boro have been quiet on the shopping front though Friend expects the club to freshen up their squad.
But one thing he is sure about, whoever is lining up in the red corner, everyone will be united in the common goal of promotion to the top flight.
“There will be changes in the squad, there always is every year,” said the left-back.“But whoever is in there, they will be united and ready to go.
“It’s so competitive and there are places up for grabs, I’m sure everyone will be fit and raring to go.”
Promotion is a must he said in an interview with BBC Tees.
“That’s what the chairman wants every season and he puts so much time, effort and money into it that we deserve it,” he added.