Stand-in Boro skipper Woodgate reveals pride

September 18, 2006

Jonathan Woodgate has described captaining Middlesbrough at the weekend as the proudest day of the career.

The 26-year-old is on loan at his home-town club from Real Madrid after two frustrating seasons in Spain battling against injury but his current form has prompted suggestions of an England recall.

While the former Newcastle centre-back is not concentrating on his international career at the moment, he is encouraged by his current form and was delighted to deputise for George Boateng as Boro skipper against Bolton on Saturday.

'It was the proudest day of my football life, to captain my hometown club,' said Woodgate after taking the plaudits in the goalless draw, a week after his impressive Boro debut, against Arsenal.

Woodgate has earned five England caps, the last of which came against Sweden more than two years ago, and is happy to focus on his domestic form before thinking about a call-up to Steve McClaren's squad.

'I'm not thinking about it at the moment, I just need to concentrate on playing well,' he said on official Boro website.

Woodgate, who could be bought outright by Boro eventually, has been impressed with the atmosphere at the Riverside since his arrival just before the transfer window closed.

'There's a great team sprit in the dressing room and I get up in the morning and look forward to coming to work, which is a great feeling,' he added.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate feels Woodgate deserves an injury-free run after his hard work to return to full fitness.

'He deserves the fortune that he's having. He's working tremendously hard to create those opportunities,' Southgate said. 'When you work as hard as he is and put in hours that he has, he deserves some breaks.

'He's got a full season with us and we're going to look after him in between matches. Woody's got a bit of steel about him with a point to prove and he's determined to do it with us this season.'