Jonathan Woodgate has endured a tough start to life as Middlesbrough boss, with the side currently 18th in the Championship and with just one win to their name in the league this season.
However, given the rookie manager was challenged with changing a lot at the Riverside, patience is required and there have been signs that some of his decisions will pay off.
One of those has been his call to play Jonny Howson at right-back, with the ex-Leeds man flourishing at times in an unnatural position during the opening month of the campaign.
Therefore, news that he will be out following surgery on a hernia is not what Woodgate or the fans will have wanted to hear.
As our graphic highlights, he has done a lot right for Boro this season, both from full-back and when he has been utilised in midfield.
He has produced a lot of all-action displays, with his 33 interceptions in five games a very impressive return and it shows how he has adapted quickly to having that extra defensive responsibility.
As well as that, he has completed eight clearances which further suggests he is a capable option for Woodgate as part of his defence moving forward.
Yet, Howson’s game has always been about helping out in the final third too and even at 31-years-old, he has the energy to support the forward, evident by his eight progressive runs, and he has contributed with two assists, whilst he has assisted five shots, which demonstrates that he is getting into good positions.
Even though they are respectable numbers, that is still an aspect of his game that he can improve as he really does have quality in his right-foot and could be a real creative outlet from Boro when running from deep.
All in all though, you could argue that Howson has been one of the standout players for Boro this season and he has certainly given the side a different dynamic when he plays at right-back.
Anfernee Dijksteel was signed as a natural to play that role but he hasn’t had the best of starts on Teesside, although he will now get a run in the team as his teammate recovers from surgery.
However, he will need to impress, because Howson has shown that he can have a big role to play for Boro this season as they look to finally click into gear under Woodgate.
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