How Martin Braithwaite could fit into Jonathan Woodgate's Middlesbrough side after Austria call-up
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate has opened the door for Martin Braithwaite to revive his career on Teesside – but how could the Danish international fit into Boro’s side?
Braithwaite, 28, has been included in the club’s 28-man squad who will travel to Austria this weekend – with a game against local side Grazer AK scheduled for Friday, July 5.
We take a closer look at how the forward could be utilised, as Woodgate’s side gear up for the new Championship campaign.
The number 10 position – Ever since the departure of Gaston Ramirez, Boro have struggled to find someone who can link-up play between attack and midfield.
At the start of last season, Braithwaite showed he has the quality and technical ability to do that, picking up pockets of space and posing a threat in front of the opposition’s backline.
Braithwaite’s return could see Boro revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation with the Dane playing in the number 10 position, behind either Britt Assombalonga (who is still away on international duty), Ashley Fletcher or Rudy Gestede.
For that to work next season, the Teessiders still need to strengthen in wide areas, with Marcus Tavernier and Marvin Johnson the only senior wingers at the club.
Out wide – Braithwaite could also help address Boro’s lack of width, playing on the left or right of a 4-3-3 system like he’s done for Denmark.
That would still allow Braithwaite to drift inside and provide a creative spark from central areas – creating space for an overlapping full-back.
The Dane would have to be aware of his defence duties, though, and be willing to track back when his side lose the ball.
As a second striker – Some of Braithwaite’s best performances in a Boro shirt came when Tony Pulis switched to a 3-5-2 formation last season, with the Dane playing just off Assombalonga.
The extra security at the back allowed Braithwaite to express himself in the final third and pose another goal threat along with the striker ahead of him.
In Assombalonga, Fletcher and Gestede, Boro have three powerful forwards who can hold the ball up and bring someone like Braithwaite into play.