Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate says the club have put contract talks with a number of first-team players on hold until the end of the season.
Several members of ‘Boro’s senior squad, including Jonny Howson, George Friend, Rudy Gestede, Dani Ayala, Ryan Shotton, Marvin Johnson and Adam Clayton, are all set to see their deals at the Riverside Stadium come to an end at the close of the campaign.
Woodgate’s side currently find themselves 19th in the Championship table, two points clear of the relegation zone with nine games of the season remaining, and it seems their ability to survive in the second-tier this season will have a significant impact on those contract negotiations.
Providing an update on negotiations, Woodgate told the Teesside Gazette: “We’ve had to put that on hold at the minute. We’ve got nine games to go, let’s see where we’re at at the end of the nine games.
“It depends on how they do in the last nine games of the season. Look at how well Rudy is doing, he’s started three league games and has two goals and one assist.”
Indeed, it seems it is not just those players soon to be out of contract who are fighting for their future with ‘Boro, with Woodgate going on to add: “Every player is playing for their future. The young players, the older players, those who are out of contract.”
One player who it does seem will be at the club next season is Howson, as discussing the future prospects of the midfielder, Woodgate, who has previously expressed his desire to keep the 31-year-old at the club, simply stated: “He’ll be alright.”
Next up for Woodgate and his side is the visit of play-off chasing Swansea City to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
I think this is the right approach for Middlesbrough to take.
Given the club do not currently know what division they will be in next season, it is hard for them to know exactly how they will be able to budget things financially.
As a result, they could find themselves in a difficult situation off the pitch, if they were to sign players to Championship level contracts now, only to be relegated to League One at the end of the season.
The suggestion that it is not only those soon to be out of contract who are playing for their futures also seems to make sense, since you imagine some of those other players will at the very least have to up their game if they are to have a hope of retaining a place in this side one ‘Boro’s summer recruitment is completed.