MIDDLESBROUGH defender Jonathan Woodgate hopes a stint of boxing training will help him get fully fit for the looming Championship season.
The former England man has spent seven weeks at Wellington ABC in Middlesbrough, and feels the benefit as Boro fly out to Portugal for a training camp on the Algarve.
“I’m a boxing fan and I’ve done bits and pieces of the training in the past, but never to this intensity,” said Woodgate.
“I need to keep fit as I’m getting older. If you stop, it’s harder to get back fit again.
“I’m nowhere near a boxer, but the 90-minute circuits we’ve been doing three times a week are rock hard to be fair, but you need to be pushed and I like hard work.
“I had quite a few injuries last season and played 25 games. When you are out for weeks injured you lose a bit of fitness, then you get back and you are out again.
“So I lost a lot of fitness and towards the end of last season I was doing a lot of running on my own.
“I’ve been doing a lot of running in the off season too, as I always do.
“So hopefully with all that and the boxing it will stand me in good stead, because I feel good.
“Being injured is horrible and, as a professional footballer, of course I want to play as many games as I can.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Woodgate is eyeing promotion – despite the Teessiders’ dreadful form in the second half of last term.
“We have to push on again and aim for the stars. There is no point looking down the league, we’ve got to aim for the top and that’s the way I always think,” he said.
“The league is going to be even harder this season.
“QPR, Wigan and Reading have come down and I think Reading will be up there.
“I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Boro will only miss Seb Hines (out following a knee operation until the autumn) and Justin Hoyte, who is on Trinidad and Tobago duty, on their Portuguese trip which could feature a closed-doors match and will see the players pushed with three training sessions every day.