England manager Gareth Southgate says he is "delighted" to bring the national team back to the north east for two friendlies at the Riverside this week.

The England team have been at Boro's Rockliffe Park training complex since Saturday, preparing for the friendly matches against Austria on Wednesday (8pm) and Romania on Sunday (5pm).

A legendary former Boro skipper, Southgate led the club to League Cup glory in 2004 and our subsequent first forays into Europe, before then cutting his teeth here in management.

Now, Southgate says he is excited to be leading the Three Lions' return to the Riverside for the first time since 2003, when he himself featured as an England player.

"I’m delighted to bring the team here," he said.

"I remember playing here in 2003 against Slovakia, and everyone was hugely excited to host the England team.

"You can see the excitement around the area again already.

"The initial suggestions and possibilities come from the FA, and they wanted to come back to the north east. I knew the training facilities here as well as the hotel and it's a fabulous environment. 

"It’s been very relaxed for the boys, some have played a bit of golf, and we only have to walk across the field to the training ground.

"And the real bonus in this era of sporting bubbles, is that because the weather has been good we’ve been able to eat together outside together, and that's been good psychologically.

"Now we can really look forward to the games and seeing fans again."