Jonathan Woodgate's honest response when quizzed on Middlesbrough's contract situation

Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate has admitted the club’s pressing contract situation could be out of his control.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 2:29 pm

Seven senior Boro players, including Jonny Howson, George Friend, Daniel Ayala, Ryan Shotton, Marvin Johnson, Adam Clayton and Rudy Gestede, will see their current deals expire in the summer.

The situation has inevitably led to uncertainty, with recent reports linking Ayala and Friend to Championship rivals Leeds and Stoke respectively.

Woodgate, though, isn’t taking much notice of the speculation and has urged his players to focus on the present.

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Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate.
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate.

“It can be unsettling for the players, not knowing where their future is, but their job is to play for the club they’re at now, it’s as simple as that,” said the Boro boss.

“They can’t look to the future because you never know what’s going to happen in football. Your job is to focus on the here and now, and what you don’t want to do is burn your bridges.

“You’ve got to keep on being professional and working as hard as you can, and doing the right things. If you’re professional about what you have to do, questions about what might happen in the future shouldn’t matter.

When pushed about when contract decisions could be made, Woodgate admitted chairman Steve Gibson and chief executive Neil Bausor will play a big part in negotiations.

“You’re asking the wrong man. If we have news of something, we’ll tell you,” replied Woodgate when asked for a time frame regarding contracts.

“I’m sure Neil and the chairman are speaking with representatives of players, I’m sure that’s happening. When we’ve got some news, I’ll let you know.

Even so, Woodgate says he’ll still have a say on who stays and who goes, especially when his job depends on it.

“I’ll have a say on who stays,” added the Boro boss. “With the seven lads being out of contract, I’ll have a say over who stays out of them.

“My head’s on the chopping block, and there are some really good players in that list of seven, some really good players.”