Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate quizzed on Marcus Tavernier's lack of game time ahead of Birmingham clash

Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate was full of praise for midfielder Marcus Tavernier following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Preston – but has defended his decision to be patient with the youngster.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 5:00 pm
Middlesbrough midfielder Marcus Tavernier impressed against Preston on Tuesday night.

Tavernier, 20, was handed his first league start of the season against the Lillywhites and was a constant threat cutting in from the right flank.

Woodgate has repeatedly praised Tavernier for his application and hard work in training, yet, up until the Preston game, the player had racked up just 38 minutes in the Championship this season.

Tavernier was deployed as one of the wide players in a 4-3-3 formation, despite admitting he prefers playing in central midfield.

Boro are well stocked in the middle of the park, though, with Paddy McNair, Adam Clayton, Lewis Wing, George Saville and Jonny Howson all competing for places.

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Out wide, Ashley Fletcher and Marvin Johnson both made solid starts to the campaign, which surely played a part in Tavernier’s lack of game time.

But, following his eye-catching display against Preston, it would be a big surprise if Woodgate chose not to start Tavernier against Birmingham on Friday night.

When asked why Tavernier hadn’t played more in Boro’s first nine league games, Woodgate replied: “The reasons why Tav wasn't playing? He played the game against Crewe and didn't do great in that game.

“Listen, people get chances in the game and he took his chance the other night I thought he played really, really well and hopefully we get another performance out of Tav - if selected.”