This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Player View’ series, this content strand is where we put ourselves in the shoes of a given player, and offer an opinion-based outlook on the situation at hand…
After a long and successful career with Middlesbrough, this is not how George Friend will have wanted what could be his final season to pan out.
The full-back has spent seven years with the club so far after joining from Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2012.
For a player who arrived for a six-figure fee, it’s safe to say that the Teessiders have had more than their money’s worth out of the defender.
But that doesn’t mean that they want his journey to end there.
The Middlesbrough captain is usually an ever-present in the team, but a number of injuries have limited him to just three appearances so far this term.
The most recent was the 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers before the international break as the defender made his recovery from an abductor injury, however news this week said that he had suffered a setback.
That means that, according to the club, Friend could now be out of action until February.
While this is obviously a blow for Jonathan Woodgate and his team, it has bigger implications due to his contract situation.
Friend is one of the several Middlesbrough players who are out of contract in the summer, meaning that this injury could be a significant blow to his hopes of featuring regular for the Teesside club.
The 32-year-old has dropped no hints over whether he intends to stay, but unlike other options in the squad, his injury now means that a January move – and a potential last chance for Middlesbrough to recoup a fee – is out of the question.
The defender certainly has a lot to offer despite his advancing years, and I’m sure many Middlesbrough fans would love him to stay at the club, but it all depends on the player himself.
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Whether he has his sights set on a new challenge remains to be seen, but after what will be nine years at the club, few could begrudge him that opportunity.
However after his lengthy spell on the sidelines this term could also be bad news for Friend himself, with some clubs perhaps likely to question his fitness as he reaches the autumn of his career.
For Middlesbrough, of course the hope will be that they can tie him down to a new deal, but if that isn’t to be then all the supporters can hope for is an opportunity to see George Friend back in a Middlesbrough shirt for a run of games towards the end of the season.
After all, to spend nine years at a football club in the modern era is not something to be sniffed at.