Three key questions ahead of Middlesbrough's Championship opener at Luton

Middlesbrough will kick-off the new EFL season at Luton on Friday night – with lots of anticipation surrounding the game. Here are three key questions ahead of the clash at Kenilworth Road.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 2nd August 2019, 12:45 pm
Jonathan Woodgate will take charge of his first competitive game as Middlesbrough head coach at Luton on Friday night.

Will the captain be fit and where could he play? – Boro skipper George Friend has missed a large part of pre-season due to an injury his sustained back in April.

Head coach Jonathan Woodgate said he hopes Friend and goalkeeper Darren Randolph will be fit for the game – but will the pair be thrown straight back into the side?

Randolph seems an obvious one, he was Boro’s best player last season and, if fit, will surely play between the sticks.

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The call on Friend is less straight forward, following the impressive performances of 21-year-old left-back Hayden Coulson during pre-season.

Friend could also play at centre-back, where he operated against Bishop Auckland earlier this summer, which would allow him to play alongside Coulson and guide the youngster through the game.

How long can Boro stay on the front foot? – Woodgate has made it clear he wants his side to play an attacking brand of football and win the ball back quickly in the final third.

That will excite and appeal to the Boro fans but is a stark contrast to the style of football Boro played under Tony Pulis last season.

It will be interesting to see just how long the visitors can stay on the front foot at Kenilworth Road in a hostile and testing environment.

And what will happen if Boro take the lead? Time and time again we saw Boro retreat after going ahead under Pulis, so will they revert to old habits or be able to go for the jugular?

Can Boro handle the pressure? – Boro’s new-look coaching team want the side to pass and keep the ball in tight areas when opponents apply pressure.

Woodgate has made it clear it’s important to get the balance right with a time and place to play out from the back.

Boro’s ability to keep the ball will be severely tested against a lively Luton side which scored goals for fun in League One last season.