Why Jonathan Woodgate is defending forgotten Boro striker Rudy Gestede
Towering frontman Rudy Gestede may not be a popular figure among Middlesbrough fans – yet head coach Jonathan Woodgate still believes the striker can play a big part this season.
The Benin international, 31, has racked up just 17 minutes of Championship football this campaign and has been out since the start of October with a hamstring issue.
Gestede has endued a dismal few years on Teesside since his move from Aston Villa in January 2017, while many supporters have criticised the striker since the move.
Yet Woodgate says Gestede has acted professionally during rehab this season and can offer a different option up top.
“Rudy's been good. His attitude has been good, I've got no complaints about Rudy,” said Woodgate ahead of Saturday's trip to Swansea. “He wants to get back fit, he realises that if he does well there's a chance for him to play.
“I'm open and honest with him and I'll tell him the truth.
“He's something different to come off the bench or start games. If we can play to Rudy's strengths it gives us something different.
“Playing with two up front, another one to partner him, it's something different.”
The best season of Gestede’s career came at Blackburn when the striker scored 20 Championship goals during the 2014/15 campaign.
When asked why it hasn’t worked out for the striker on Teesside, Woodgate also explained how Gestede helped midfielder Marcus Tavernier when the pair were both out injured.
“He hasn't really had a run,” replied Woodgate “He's been injured quite often which is difficult for anyone. That's the main reason.
“It's keeping Rudy fit, that's the challenge, but he's doing everything he can to remain fit, he's a positive guy, he's been no problem to me, he's worked really hard in his rehabilitation.
“When Marcus was injured we put them two together so Marcus could see what it's like for a pro to really do his rehab and really get stuck into it and work as hard as he can.”
“It's a plus for us if we can get a fit Rudy Gestede firing on all cylinders, get him really fit and get him playing up there with another striker."