Middlesbrough captain George Friend discusses playing at centre-back and Jonathan Woodgate's appointment

Middlesbrough captain George Friend says he’s more than capable if asked to play at centre-back this season following his return to action against Bishop Auckland on Saturday.

By Joe Nicholson
Monday, 22 July, 2019, 07:00
Middlesbrough captain George Friend played 60 minutes at Bishop Auckland on Saturday afternoon.

The 31-year-old, who missed the end of Boro’s last campaign though injury, was deployed in the heart of defence at Heritage Park as the Teessiders ran out comfortable 7-1 winners against the Northern League Division One side.

Since his move to the Riverside in 2012, Friend has predominantly played at left-back, yet the abrupt departure of Aden Flint to Cardiff last week has left Boro a man lighter at the back.

The Teessiders aren’t exactly blessed with options at full-back either, though the emergence of youngsters Patrick Reading and Hayden Coulson in pre-season has given Woodgate food for thought.

Friend’s experience and leadership qualities will be key to helping the club’s younger players, and the Boro skipper is happy to play wherever he’s required.

When asked if he could play centre-back this term, Friend replied: “Potentially. I don't know what the plan is, I don't know if they'll be bringing in someone for Flinty.

“I was actually signed for Middlesbrough as a centre-half who can play left-back. I know I've played most of my career at Middlesbrough at left-back but I'm very comfortable at centre-half so I don't mind.”

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Friend has played under five different managers at the Riverside and was given the captain’s armband by Tony Pulis last season.

Following the Welshman’s exit, Friend was happy to see Woodgate get his first chance in senior management, making the step up from first-team coach.

“I was delighted to see the manager get the job,” added Friend. “He deserves it, he's local and he's got a good team around him so for me it was the best appointment.

“I think he's highly capable to do it. As a player he got to the highest level and I don't see why he can't as a manager and his heart really is in the club which gives it an added bit.

“He's very ambitious and determined so it's very exciting, it's an exciting place to be and hopefully the results follow.”