Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Karanka Is Delighted to Have Veteran Back at Boro

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Karanka Is Delighted to Have Veteran Back at Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathon Taylor Sports writer

JONATHAN Woodgate has answered Boro's call and pledged his playing future to the club for another year.

The 35-year-old looked set for retirement after Boro boss Aitor Karanka revealed two weeks ago that he would not play this season.

But following a dramatic U-turn on Thursday evening, the former England international now looks set to spearhead Boro's promotion charge alongside brother-in-law Stewart Downing.

The pair jetted out to Marbella yesterday to meet up with the rest of the Boro squad - and their arrival created quite the buzz in the Spanish sun.

Woodgate endured an injury-hit campaign last time out, making only nine appearances for Karanka's side.

But when he did play, he looked as imperious as ever - and Karanka admits he's delighted to have Woodgate back in his Boro ranks.

"Woody will be important in the changing room," Karanka told the club's website.

"I really appreciated his reaction after hearing of Alex Baptiste's injury last week, and he is ready to come back. He knows his role will be a bit different. He wants to come here to help us get promotion.

"I said last season and I'll say it again, he can be very important because he is a good person and a good lad.

"He was thinking about retiring 10 months ago and now he wants to help us. We are close to being a family here, and we're pleased to say 'welcome back Woody.'" Woodgate was considering hanging up his boots after 17 illustrious years following Boro's play-off final defeat against Norwich at Wembley.

The classy former Leeds, Newcastle, Real Madrid and Spurs centre-back married Downing's sister, Natalie, in Ibiza over the summer - and pledged to make a definitive decision on his future shortly after.

"I haven't got a clue what will happen," Woodgate told The Gazette.

"To be honest, I haven't even thought of that yet. I'll think about it when I'm laying on a sun-lounger somewhere and I'll have a chat with my family."

Before the play-off final, Karanka admitted he would welcome Woodgate on the Boro coaching staff, should the former England man want to go into coaching. …

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