Jonathan Woodgate drops selection hint ahead of FA Cup meeting with Tottenham Hotspur
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate has hinted that full-backs Hayden Coulson and Djed Spence will be rested for tonight’s FA Cup replay at Tottenham.
Woodgate has already told his players who will start in North London, with multiple changes planned following Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Derby.
Following the match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Boro will face Fulham on Friday night to complete a run of three games in six days.
When asked about his team selection to face Spurs, Woodgate highlighted Coulson, 21, and Spence, 19, due to the pair’s heavy workload.
“I need to do the best thing for the team, it will be tough. I need to look after players,” said the Boro boss.
“We have tired bodies. I mean look at the full-backs, they got through 440 metres of sprint distances, the pair of them. I have never seen that before. It hasn’t happened at this club.
“Both players were getting up to 35km per hour, counted as sprints. Djed’s top speed was recorded at 36km per hour. Hayden’s was 35. They did 40 or so sprints in Saturday’s game. That is unbelievable.
“Frankie Hunter (Boro’s head of sports science) said it was off the scale. We need to look after them. That is quick. I don’t want them injured. I want them here for the long run, not just the short run, but those figures are unbelievable.
Coulson and Spence have become first-team regulars during Boro’s successful spell over the last month.
When asked about his options at full-back, Woodgate added: “They've got a lot of energy. But Jonny Howson gives you energy if he plays and covers a lot of distance.
“Marvin Johnson plays there, he has done really well when he's played.
“Before he got sent off he was doing really well. So him and Hayden are fighting for their spots.”
Woodgate also confirmed midfielder Adam Clayton will return to the starting XI to face Tottenham after missing the draw with Derby.
“I told Clayts he wouldn't play against Derby but he'd play against Spurs,” said Woodgate.
Goalkeeper Tomas Mejias will start in goal for Boro, just like in the original fixture at the Riverside.