THREE things we've learnt from Middlesbrough's first week of pre-season training

Middlesbrough returned to pre-season training this week – with the club posting regular videos on their social media accounts. Here’s what we’ve learnt from the last five days.

By Joe Nicholson
Friday, 28 June, 2019, 17:30
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate

Passing drills have played a big part – Following his appointment a fortnight ago, new head coach Jonathan Woodgate made it clear how he wants Boro to play.

“Firstly, I want to pass the ball,” he said. “Pass the ball, keep the ball, I want players to run with the ball, it's important that when you lose the ball you win it back as quickly as possible.”

That vision has been clear to see this week, with lots of slick one-touch passing drills to open up space for one another.

Last season, Boro often lacked creativity and guile to break teams down, with much of the attention seemingly on defensive aspects.

Gestede and Johnson are very much involved – A fortnight ago, Woodgate said every player will start with a ‘clean slate’, even those on the fringes.

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At the end of last season, many Boro fans will have forgotten about the likes of Rudy Gestede, who rarely featured last season, and Marvin Johnson, who joined Sheffield United on loan last summer, yet both appeared fully involved in the first week back.

It’ll now be interesting to see how Martin Braithwaite, who made it clear he wants to leave the Riverside last season, slots back into the group.

Along with Darren Randolph, George Saville, Paddy McNair and Britt Assombalonga, Braithwaite is yet to return to training due to recent international fixtures.

Youngsters have been given a chance – Woodgate also made it clear he wouldn’t be afraid to give youngsters a chance in Boro’s first team.

This week nine outfield under-23s players have joined up with the senior squad and look set to play a big part in pre-season.

Boro’s players will be able to learn from new assistant Robbie Keane, who showed he’s still got plenty in his locker after joining in this week’s training drills.