Lesson learned for Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate believes he has overcome the injury problems which have hampered his career.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 05/10/07 10:19am
Jonathan Woodgate believes he has finally overcome the chronic injury problems which have hampered his international career.
The centre-back made his England debut as a teenager back in 1999 but has won only six full caps since then.
However, after joining hometown club Middlesbrough from Real Madrid, Woodgate has finally been able to feature on a regular basis and produce the displays which earmarked him as one of the most gifted defenders in the country.
The former Leeds and Newcastle player endured an unhappy time in Spain and admits that gambling with his fitness in the past proved costly, a mistake he will not be repeating.
He told the Daily Express: "I played 37 games last season, which is the best run I have had for a few years.
"At Real Madrid I barely played because of injuries, but I do feel this season I can get around that number again.
"Obviously you are going to get little niggles, but the key is spotting them at an early stage. In the past I have played through them and done more damage. I know my body better now.
"My downfall has sometimes been to play with a groin strain or whatever and make things worse.
"Last season was a great year for me because I needed to play week in, week out, I had to get my career back on track."
And Woodgate hopes that his prolonged return to fitness and form will earn him a place in Steve McClaren's England plans.
He said: "The last time, for the Israel and Russia games, I wasn't selected because I hadn't really been playing for a couple of weeks so I didn't expect a call-up.
"But I spoke to Steve and he just said keep doing what you are doing, which was encouraging.
"If he chooses me I would love to be able to play a part as they are two hard games coming up against Estonia and Russia."