George Friend - Photo-Getty Images

Reflecting on a bad day on Saturday, the 25-year-old defender said: "I know it obviously hurts the fans, but as a player every time the ball hits the back of the net it hurt. More each time.

"You run it over and over again in your head and just hope you get a chance to put it right when you have another game."

There was plenty of time for thought as one of the longest journeys of the season followed a 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, the second successive away game where Boro have concede four and a fifth defeat in succession on the road.

"It was six hours back from Palace," reveals Friend. "But it wasn't just on that journey that I was thinking about the result. It's when you go to bed at night and on Sunday.

"You don't really stop thinking about it until you start preparing for the next game. That started on Sunday and the lads have reacted well in training.

"The only way you can get out of it is to roll your sleeves up and say enough is enough. It doesn't do anyone any good to keep your head down for too long."

Boro's fans have been on a rollercoaster over the last few weeks but Friend says it is important they know that the players care deeply.

"I shouldn't really have to answer that question," he says. "It's fairly obvious we all care and we give it everything in every game. It hurts not scoring and losing games. It means so much to please the fans and to help us get where we want to be in our careers.

"Every time I put on a Middlesbrough shirt I feel to so proud and can't wait to get out and help push us on to what we all want to achieve."

Despite a run which has brought just one win in seven in the league in 2013, Boro remain masters of their own destiny. They are in a play-off spot coveted by many beneath, including tonight's opponents Burnley.

"We have to remember that, recognise where we are and realise that we could be chasing a play-off spot, like Burnley," says Friend.

"We need to hold on to what we have and aim higher - everyone realises that. Burnley know what we can do, they'll look at our squad and see quality.

"We have to do something about this run, the manager has made that clear. We have to stay strong, be tough to beat and cause the opposition problems, just like we were earlier in the season."

Click here to listen to an exclusive interview with George.