Middlesbrough's summer plans as Carrick talks 'vital' elements for next season's preparation

Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Carrick watch Middlesbrough training
Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Carrick watch Middlesbrough training -Credit:Middlesbrough FC

Michael Carrick says rest and recuperation for his players right now is vital for next season, but the mental preparation for next season must begin right away.

Middlesbrough missed out on a top-six finish in the Championship this season meaning they have no play-off campaign and therefore an extended summer break - already longer this year because of the later Championship start next season of August 10. But Carrick has already made clear that the aim next season is to challenge for promotion.

Boro suffered an unprecedented number of injuries over the course of this campaign and know that their luck will have to change next term if they are to achieve their goals. As such, the players will have individual training programmes to follow over the next six weeks before returning towards the end of June for the start of pre-season.

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“Rest is vital for the players," Carrick said. "They probably don’t get enough of it over the course of the season, with the way that the calendar is. The season doesn’t really allow for it much. Certainly now, for the boys, it’s important they use the time to rest up and to get rid of all those niggles because there won’t be anyone in that dressing room who is 100% fit.

"I can’t remember playing a game where you’re actually 100% fit - even when you think or feel you are, you never truly are. So it’s important they rest up. It’s a little bit longer this summer because it was only about three-and-a-half weeks compared to this year which is not far off double that. Last year, with the play-offs, it was very different to this year. We know this year that was last game and we can plan knowing what league we’re in.

"Just as important, the mental challenge for next season starts now really. The preparation is key, and part of that preparation is doing things right through your holidays - through the summer - to give you the best chance to come back fit and raring to go. There will be a programme for each player and a bit of a structured plan for them in terms of what to do and when.

"But for the first two or three weeks, it’s important to switch off and not do a lot. Enjoy the time off, enjoy life, spend time with the family and do what they’ve got to do before gradually getting back into the swing of things. Pre-season is all sorted now, so we’ll take our break and then look forward to getting back to it then."

When the Boro players do return to Rockliffe next month, they'll find a full pre-season programme all mapped out as they look to get ready for the new season. That will include numerous friendlies and also a training camp, believed to once again be taking place in the Algarve, Portugal.

Before that comes rest though, and while Carrick is hoping he too can enjoy a bit of downtime after a long and challenging season, he admits switching off for him might not be as simple.

He continued: “There is an element of trying to switch off, but there is always something going on in my mind about what we need to do to be better, how we can improve things and so on. As much as I enjoy the time with the family, there’s always something niggling away at the back of the mind."