Michael Carrick's strong hint that Jonny Howson will still be a Middlesbrough player next season

Jonny Howson of Middlesbrough
Jonny Howson of Middlesbrough -Credit:Greig Cowie/REX/Shutterstock

Michael Carrick expects Jonny Howson to still be a Middlesbrough player next season, admitting he doesn't expect Saturday's clash with Watford to be his final game.

Howson is out of contract this summer, which means Saturday's clash with Watford at the Riverside - the final game of Boro's season, could have been his final game for the club. However, both player and club have expressed their desire for the club captain to remain at the club next season.

Though nothing is yet agreed as far as terms of a new 12-month deal, Howson said this week that he sees no reason that it won't be sorted. And speaking ahead of the Watford game, the Boro boss said when asked about Howson's contract: "I don't think it's done, done - but I don't think it will be Jonny's last game on Saturday."

READ MORE: Jonny Howson's new Middlesbrough contract hope amid club stance clarification

Howson will turn 36 this month but has proven once again this season just how important a player he still is for the club. With no signs of slowing down and having not suffered the same kind of injuries that afflicted so many of his team-mates, the midfielder has been as influential as ever in his 42 appearances to date.

"Age is just a number," Carrick continued. "Players are so different now. Some players might find it more difficult when they get to 32/33. Sometimes you have to be lucky and have to have the genetics and make-up that allows you to stay fit.

"Other times you have to really dedicate and sacrifice a lot and make sure you live your life right and train right to be able to have a longer career. Jonny is a prime example of what it takes. He plays like a 31, 32-year-old at the minute so to be nearly 36 is irrelevant.

"He trains pretty much every single day, and hates missing anything, so it's a bit of a fight when you have to try and pull him out of something because he's adamant he wants to do it. He's just a pleasure to have as the leader of the group really and long may it continue."