Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate reacts to Grazer AK defeat and provides Daniel Ayala injury update
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate was encouraged by his side’s first pre-season performance despite a 2-0 defeat to Austrian side Grazer AK on Friday.
The Teessiders named a youthful and inexperienced side to face the second-tier outfit, with several of Boro’s academy prospects getting the chance to impress.
Following his appointment last month Woodgate set out his vision for Boro to play an attacking, possession-based game under his watch.
There were evident signs of Boro trying to play out from the back here, but Woodgate knows the process will take time.
“We’ve been working now ten days, seven with the football,” he told the club website. “The lads have worked really hard all week, and [Grazer] are fresh coming into it off the back end of their season.
“I’ve got no complaints. We’re playing the way we want to play, and that won’t be changing. We’re sticking to our plan, and the more we practise the better we’ll be - and the players realise that.
“You get your minutes in your legs and you work as hard as you can. We’ve got another five friendlies before the season starts and as we get fitter we’ll be better on the ball.”
There was some concern when defender Daniel Ayala gingerly left the field midway through the first half, yet Woodgate doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
“I think he was just a bit tight,” said Boro’s head coach. “He’s trained hard, and he hasn’t missed a session.”
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Meanwhile, former Boro midfielder Lee Tomlin has opened up on his battle with mental health which left him considering suicide.
The 30-year-old playmaker left the Riverside in the summer of 2015 shortly after Boro lost in the play-off final to Norwich City.
Following his move to Bournemouth that summer, Tomlin has struggled to rediscover his impressive Riverside form and is now back at Cardiff City following loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Peterborough.
And in a revealing interview with the Daily Mail, Tomlin has discussed his recent struggles, after shedding a remarkable 13kg – just over two stone - in the last few months.
Tomlin also talked about his return to pre-season training at Boro four years ago, when manager Aitor Karanka wasn’t impressed with the player’s physical condition.
“We were in Marbella for pre-season playing Leyton Orient and there was a side-on picture of me that was horrendous,” said Tomlin.
“It looked Photoshopped. Everyone was like, 'Jesus Christ'. I've got low ribs so they will always stick out and it will always look like I'm carrying a bit. My bodyweight can also go up and down. I'm that sort of build.
“I had to play the full game because Aitor Karanka said, 'What have you done, look at the state of you' but I could only play half a game and more or less needed an oxygen tank.”