What Jonathan Woodgate's Middlesbrough team against St-Etienne tells us ahead of the new campaign
Jonathan Woodgate will get one last look at his Middlesbrough side before the start of the Championship season when they face French side St-Etienne at the Riverside this afternoon.
The Boro boss has made four changes from the side which started the friendly at Salford five days ago, with goalkeeper Tomas Mejias, George Saville, Marcus Tavernier and new signing Marcus Browne coming in.
Meanwhile, shot-stopper Aynsley Pears, Lewis Wing, Paddy McNair and Ashley Fletcher have dropped to the bench.
Worryingly for Boro fans there is still no sign of first-choice keeper Darren Randolph, who picked up a calf injury at Gateshead earlier this summer, or captain George Friend who is still returning to full fitness following last season’s injury setback.
That will offer another chance to young left-back Hayden Coulson who is surely in with a real chance of starting next week’s Championship opener at Luton.
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Boro fans will be keen to get a first glimpse of Browne, who arrived from West Ham earlier this week and will be desperate to get up to speed at his new club.
The 21-year-old is likely to play on the left flank, which probably means Tavernier will be moved into a central role alongside Saville and in front of anchorman Adam Clayton.
For the second game running, Daniel Ayala and Ryan Shotton will start at centre-half for the Teessiders and look likely to start the season as Woodgate’s first-choice defensive partnership.
Dael Fry remains absent from the matchday squad as he continues to recover from last season’s hamstring injury.