Why Jonathan Woodgate wants to keep Martin Braithwaite at Middlesbrough despite last season's fallout
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate says Martin Braithwaite has been the best player in training and hopes the club can keep the Danish international this season.
The Boro forward played 45 minutes during the Teessiders’ convincing 4-0 win over Hartlepool at the Super 6 Stadium on Sunday, Boro’s third game of pre-season.
Braithwaite, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Leganes, showed his quality by starting the move which led to Boro’s second goal, when the forward played a probing cross-field pass to Jonny Howson, who then assisted Rudy Gestede to head home.
At the start of the summer there was some uncertainty as to whether Braithwaite would stay at the Riverside, after the Dane handed in a transfer request and heavily criticised former boss Tony Pulis last season.
Yet Woodgate has made it clear everyone will start with a clean slate this season, and that Braithwaite is a player he wants keep.
“He's been terrific for us in training, he's been the best player in training, by a country mile,” said Woodgate after the Pools win. “He's been different class, his attitude has been fantastic, everything we've asked him to do he's done professionally. He's on the players, he raises the standard of training.
“You saw today that cross-field pass he hit to Jonny Howson – he's been fantastic, he's been really, really good.
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“His ability has never been in question and his attitude is not in question. With me he's been absolutely first class.”
When pushed if Braithwaite will still be a Boro player beyond the August 8 deadline, Woodgate replied: “I want him to stay, without a doubt I want him to stay.
“If you've got a top drawer Martin Braithwaite on your team, I tell you what, he'll be some handful.”
On the Pools win Woodgate said: “I thought the intensity to win the ball back was there for all to see at times, the pressure we wanted when we lose the ball in the final third.
“The passing was okay at times but also at times sloppy and we need to improve on that and we'll do more work on the training pitch.
“I thought it was an excellent workout.”