Tottenham v Middlesbrough: Jonathan Woodgagte set to apply the brakes in FA Cup

Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate: Tough choices.
Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate: Tough choices.
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MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Jonathan Woodgate has pledged not to be guided by sentiment when it comes to his starting line-up for tonight’s glamour replay.

Emerging players Djed Spence, Hayden Coulson and Aynsley Pears have excelled during the Boro’s renaissance since the start of December, with the Teessiders heading south on the back of a run of just one defeat in nine matches in all competitions.

I need to do the best thing for the team, it will be tough. I need to look after players. We have tired bodies.

Jonathan Woodgate

But mindful of a run of three matches in six days and the energy expended by Spence and Coulson in particular over the past month, Woodgate is toying with the prospect of resting the dynamic full-backs.

Woodgate, who has confirmed that Tomas Mejias and Adam Clayton will start tonight, said: “I need to do the best thing for the team, it will be tough. I need to look after players. We have tired bodies. I mean look at the full-backs, they got through 440 metres of sprint distances (on Saturday).

“I have never seen that before. It has not happened at this club – both players getting up to 25km per hour counted as sprint.

“Djed’s top speed was recorded at 36km per hour. Hayden’s was 35. They did 40 or so sprints in Saturday’s game. That is unbelievable. Frankie Hunter (sports scientist) said it was off the scale.

“I can’t make massive changes, I have not got the squad. But there will be changes.

“Three games in six days is terrible really, but you just have to do it.

“I have to look at Hayden and Djed’s accumulation over that period, I do not want them to get injured.”

With Boro staying down in the capital after the game – ahead of Friday’s appointment at Craven Cottage – the club been allowed to train at Crystal Palace’s training ground after a request to Spurs was turned down.

Woodgate added: “They must have had some reason, it might not have been possible for whatever reason.

“Palace said no problem. Keano (Robbie Keane) knows Dougie Freedman, so that is how it happened.”

Last six games: Tottenham LWDLDL; Middlesbrough WWWWDD.

Referee: TBC.

Last time: Tottenham 1 Middlesbrough 0, February 4, 2017; Premier League.