Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate provides positive injury update ahead of Luton clash

Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate hopes both goalkeeper Darren Randolph and captain George Friend will be fit for Friday’s Championship opener at Luton.

By Joe Nicholson
Wednesday, 31 July, 2019, 17:14
Jonathan Woodgate hopes full-back George Friend will be fit for Friday's Championship opener against Luton.

Randolph, 32, missed Boro’s last four pre-season games with a calf issue he picked up at Gateshead, while Friend has also been absent in recent weeks due to an injury he sustained last season.

Woodgate was asked about the pair ahead of the trip to Kenilworth Road and whether they’d be fit for Friday’s clash: “I'd like to think so,” he replied.

“It’ll be a big boost. They are two top players, brilliant characters. Let’s just see if there’re ready.”

Boro’s head coach may also hand a first Championship start to young left-back Hayden Coulson, 21, who has impressed in pre-season.

Woodgate has been an admirer of the player for some time after working as Boro’s first-team coach under Tony Pulis last season.

“Hayden Coulson has been a standout performer throughout pre-season,” added Woodgate. “I tried to push him two seasons ago, when Pulis got the job. We have a terrific environment for him.

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“Now, he can play in a number of positions. He has been fantastic in training and in my opinion he will be going places.”

Some of Boro’s best results last season came away from the Riverside, with only Norwich, Sheffield United and Bristol City bolstering better away records in the Championship.

Even so, Woodgate is expecting a tough game against the Hatters who won the League One title last season.

“We have a good away record,” said Woodgate, when asked about the trip to Kenilworth Road “Newly promoted team, live on Sky, they will fill the stadium, but I will say every week, every game is tough. The league is relentless, whenever they are.

“They are a really good team, play with energy, free flowing and will play football under Graeme Jones. I saw him working for West Brom last year. We have to try to stop them. Every game is so hard, Luton away, West Brom at home, every game is tough. Luton will be a really tough game.”