Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate playing key role in centre-back Dael Fry's improvement, says Michael Carrick
Fry had a difficult start to the season, struggling to win a place in Chris Wilder's back three, but travels to Norwich City for Saturday’s last game before the World Cup flourishing alongside Darragh Lenihan in a four.
Woodgate was a surprise choice as Carrick's assistant when the latter made his first step into management last month.
But the former player knows all about his local club having worked on the academy and first-team coaching staffs before a short spell in charge in 2019-20. Having played Champions League football for Leeds United, Newcastle United and Real Madrid, he knows a thing or two about playing centre-back too.
“There are not many better than Woody and how he sees the game and what he achieved in the game and that experience that he can pass on," said Carrick.
"He’s had a bit of everything in his career, Woody, so he can pass all that on to Dael as well as all the other boys every day. It’s more the drip-feeding information rather than any big sit-downs. It’s just constant little bits and I’m sure Dael appreciates that."
On Fry's recent form, he added: "You can see him growing in terms of assurance, presence and a bit of confidence. Together with Darragh they’ve complemented each other very well.
"Dael has been a real presence for us – not just in defending but on the ball and helping us play out from the back and set the tone. That’s both the centre halves because I’ve been really pleased with both of them."
A back problem means Matt Clarke is in no position to threaten the partnership at Carrow Road and Duncan Watmore is a doubt after the head injury sustained against Huddersfield Town. Neither have yet played for Carrick.