George Friend reveals the key to overtaking Leeds and Norwich as Middlesbrough eye promotion
Middlesbrough defender George Friend believes that consistency in team selection could prove the key to Middlesbrough's promotion push.
Friend's late strike at the Madjeski Stadium earned Boro a win at Reading on Saturday, and saw Tony Pulis's side move back up to fourth in the second tier after a disappointing run of results.
After sliding down the table, pressure was mounting on Pulis and Boro as their promotion ambitions looked to have faded.
But the victory on Saturday has built a renewed sense of confidence ahead of the festive period as Middlesbrough look to put the pressure on pace-setters Leeds United and Norwich City.
And Friend believes that consistency in team selection will provide the key as the Teessiders look to climb the table.
"This time last year the team was rotating every week, people were in and out of squads" he admitted, speaking to the Teesside Gazette.
"There's a lot more consistency now and even though in those five games we haven't had the results we wanted, there's still been that consistency in selection and the manager has kept confidence.
"You look at the start of the season and how well we were doing, the win at Reading reminded me of that.
"The lads have kept at it and when you work hard and keep the faith the results and rewards do come."
"But I don't want to talk about the past or Reading too much because we have got two home games coming up and this is where you push on, you get those results and hopefully you stay in amongst it because this is where it counts."
Pulis is expected to be busy when the January transfer window opens, with attacking reinforcements thought to be high on his wishlist.
And Friend is keen to see 'quality' additions brought to the Riverside Stadium.
"You look at our promotion season in the past, when you add to the squad you're hoping to add quality and not just bring players in," added the full-back.
"But if that quality does come in, we've all got the same goal. It doesn't matter who's playing, it's like the game against Reading, it doesn't matter who scores, it's about getting the wins and the ultimate aim is promotion.
"As an individual, the club doing well can only help you and as a team it can only help everyone.
"When the club is doing well, everyone is doing well. To add quality would be brilliant."